Health Tips: Water Safety
By Dr. Richard Louis
Injury Prevention Coordinator, NB Trauma Program
It is summer, and with the warm weather, people are focusing on what they can do outside and on the water. Happily, most injuries are preventable, but it is important to be aware of the many practical ways to reduce your risk of injury while still participating in all of the summer activities you enjoy.
It is important to remember that people, children especially, may overestimate their skills and limits, or underestimate their environments, like the strength of currents or the water depth. Using common sense, and taking precautions can reduce your risk of injury this summer.
Did you know?
Drowning is the second most common cause of injury death for children ages 0 to 14 in Atlantic Canada.
In Atlantic Canada, 50% of drownings occur in swimming pools and 44% in open bodies of water like oceans, lakes or streams.
Parents and caregivers should follow water safety guidelines in order to reduce the risk of preventable injuries in or near any water this summer. Practical ways to be water safe include:
Providing active supervision
9 out of 10 shallow water drownings occur when the adult is not there. Listening is simply not enough to prevent a drowning, since most are silent and can occur in just a few seconds. That is why it is important to stay within direct sight and arm's reach of children when they are in and around water.
Wearing life jackets
87% of Canadians who drown are either not wearing a lifejacket or do not have it secured properly. Children under 5 and weak swimmers should always wear lifejackets when they are in or around the water. Additionally, ensure that everyone always wears a lifejacket when riding in any type of boat.
Adequately fencing pools
7 out of 10 deaths can be prevented with appropriate barrier fencing. Make sure that a fence is installed to properly enclose the backyard pool.
Enrolment in swimming lessons
Swimming lessons improve children's swimming strokes and water skills. It also reduces their fear of drowning and allows them to gain confidence around the water. For example, only 3% of children who drowned in Canada from 2001 to 2010 were identified as strong swimmers.
Swimming lessons should not be limited to children. Parents and caregivers should also be trained in water skills, swimming skills, CPR and first aid. If a child under your supervision gets into trouble these types of training could help save a life.
Remember to pay attention, buckle up, wear the gear and play smart in order to help you stay safe this season. To learn more about injury prevention, please visit the NB Trauma Program website.