Hospitals and police units in northern Ontario are joining forces to promote safety on the water. This comes as we are in the middle of Drowning Prevention Week in Canada. Health Sciences North is working with police to encourage everyone to wear a lifejacket, and to not drink alcohol while on the water.
Constable Mitch Brunette, with the Sudbury Police Marine Unit, says there has to be enough lifejackets on board for each person on board. He says often times when they stop a boat and ask to see lifejackets, people are looking through compartments looking for them. Brunette says that’s not a good thing, because if there is an emergency on the water the lifejackets would be extremely hard to find if they are stowed away. He says the police encourage people to have their lifejackets out and accessible while out boating.
Staff Scientist at HSN, Dana Murchison, says swimming is already an intense aerobic exercise, even in the most ideal conditions. She says as soon as you add cold water, choppy water, or additional clothing, it gets much harder and requires a lot more energy. She says that can lead to exhaustion, hypothermia, and ultimately drowning. Murchison also points out falling out of a boat can be difficult even for expert swimmers, due to clothing, water temperature, and wind.
July has more water-related fatalities than any other month, with natural bodies of water account for the highest proportion of drowning deaths.