Preventing Water Related Fatalities: National Drowning Prevention Week


IMG_0315Western Canada – The Lifesaving Society and STARS air ambulance are partnering-up across Western Canada to promote water safety, as part of National Drowning Prevention Week from July 19 to 25, 2015. Approximately 500 Canadians drown every year, including 28 Albertans, 22  Saskatchewanians, and 15 Manitobans in 2014.

“Water-related fatalities are preventable” said Lifesaving Society Chief Administrative Officer Barbara Costache. “Drowning is often only talked about when a fatality occurs; we need to talk about drowning prevention every day.”

Early 9-1-1 activation, good CPR, and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) can increase survival, but prevention is paramount.

“Our highly experienced nurses and paramedics have extensive training to care for critical patients. However, resuscitating a patient is challenging, even with advanced medical training and equipment,” says STARS president and CEO Andrea Robertson. “Prevention is most important, and that’s why we are supporting the Lifesaving Society’s safety campaign.”

Below are ways the public can reduce the risks of drowning:

•        Never leave children alone near water. And stay close – always within arms’ reach.

•        Designate an adult to supervise children in or around water.

•        Have 100% attention when supervising, by putting away distractions like cellphones.

•        Watch the face – especially the eyes. Many victims don’t call, wave, or signal for help because they can’t keep their head or arms above water.

•        Young children and non-swimmers should wear a lifejacket.

•        Check for hazards in and around water, and know your limits.

•        Never swim alone or while intoxicated.

In addition to supervision, swimming is a life skill that every child should learn – and the Lifesaving Society points out that teaching children survival swimming skills is like an immunization against drowning. They recommend taking Parent & Tot lessons at your local pool to give toddlers a positive introduction to water, and looking for swimming lessons for older children. More information and additional water safety tips are available at


•        65% of drowning deaths involved recreational activities, and 48% of drowning occurs in lakes.

•        22% of bathtub related drowning involved children under 5, and 42% involve people over 80.

•        Private backyard pools present the greatest danger for young children, accounting for one-third of water-related deaths for children under 5 years old.

•        1% of drowning deaths occur in lifeguard supervised settings.

•        66% of drownings occur in the May through September period, peaking in July and August (34%).

•        18 to 24 year olds have the highest rate of death of all age categories.

National and provincial drowning reports can be found here:

Lifesaving Society

Lifesaving Society logoThe Lifesaving Society – Canada’s lifeguarding expert – is a charitable organization working to prevent drowning and water-related injury through its training programs, Water Smart® public education, water- incident research, safety management services and lifesaving sport. Annually, more than 1,000,000 Canadians participate in the Society’s swimming, lifesaving, lifeguard and leadership training courses.


STARS air ambulance

STARS logoSTARS is a non-profit organization that provides specialized emergency medical care and helicopter transportation for critically ill and injured patients. Our physicians, nurses, paramedics and pilots work with a team of dedicated support staff and community partners to save lives. STARS has bases in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Regina, Saskatoon and Winnipeg