City Promotes National Drowning Prevention Week With Safety Sessions
Prince George, B.C. – There have been 25 drowning deaths in B.C. this year, and the peak season for such tragedies is nowhere near over.
National Drowning Prevention Week runs from this Sunday through the 25th.
Wendy Schultenkamper is the Education Director for the Lifesaving Society of BC/Yukon. She says on a beautiful summer day when people head to the water to cool off, tragedy can happen because of a variety of factors “Maybe perhaps they over estimated their swimming ability, or maybe didn’t know the area they’re in very well. Unfortunately a lot of the drownings we see, the person never intended to go into the water, maybe they fell overboard, fell off a dock , perhaps got pushed into the water, or they chose to stay in shallow water because they knew they weren’t a strong swimmer, but didn’t realize there was a sudden drop off.”
Then there is the added dynamic of the current in a river, “Often with a river, the moving water creates a lot of challenges. Depending on the type of run off, you could have much colder temperatures. You’ve also got boulders, log jams, snags, all kinds of different things that can cause a swimmer, even a strong swimmer, distress.”
She says there are some simple things people can do to be better prepared. First, find out more about the area where you plan to swim “Is it a designated beach, are there any drop offs, are there any hazards that I should be aware of? If I’m not a strong swimmer, should I be going in? If I am going in, should I perhaps be wearing a personal floatation device (PFD) of some type?”
Shultenkamper says often, people just don’t think this kind of situation will happen to them “They don’t realize how quickly things can change, and we can’t always see the bottom of the lakes and rivers where we swim, so a drop off can quickly change your day.”
Starting on Sunday, the City of Prince George will promote water safety by hosting safety-related events at the Aquatic Centre and the Four Seasons Pool.
From 1:30 to 4:30 July 19th through to 25, residents are encouraged to take the “Swim to Survive” challenge at the pools. Training will take about half an hour, and the Challenge will three skills the Lifesaving Society are the minimum skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water:
- ROLL into deep water
- TREAD water for one minute
- SWIM 50 metres
Lifeguards will also be teaching life jacket and personal floatation device safety.
The Lifesaving Society has several safety messages it would like people to adopt, but says given the current drowning statistics in B.C., and the fact most of the drownings are related to boating incidents, there is one message she hopes people will take to heart “Anytime you are on a boat, whether you’re a strong swimmer or not, that it’s very important that you wear your PFDs.”