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St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

#SummerSwimming: Splish, splash, safety

Cooling off at water parks, cottages and friends’ backyard pools are all great ways to beat the summer heat – if you keep water safety in mind.

An average of 518 Canadians died in water-related fatalities – including boating incidents and drownings – each year between 1991 and 2013, according to the 2016 Water-Related Fatality Trends Across Canada report by the Canadian Red Cross.

Dr. Alun Ackery is an emergency physician and the co-medical site director of the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program at St. Michael’s Hospital. He sees an increase in patients with water-related injuries during the summer season and suggests many of those cases are preventable.

Keep these tips from Dr. Ackery in mind to stay safe while having fun:

  1. Know the signs of silent drowning. Due to fatigue, someone who is drowning is often unable to scream for help or flail their arms. Be aware of your surroundings and look out for those who go quiet or are struggling to keep their head above water.
  2. Swim with friends. It’s always better to have other people around when you’re in potentially dangerous waters. Never leave children unattended in a pool, lake or any body of water.
  3. Be mindful of shallow and unknown waters. Whether off the side of a boat or into a pool, know that it’s safe to jump before you do so; be sure the body of water is deep enough for your plunge and beware of undetectable items such as sandbanks, tree stumps or other hazards.
  4. Be smart when consuming alcohol around water. Drinking and driving applies to boats too!
  5. Use safety equipment. Life jackets and lifebuoys are important to have nearby when around water and in boats.
  6. Take lessons. If you’re not a strong swimmer, consider lessons to build confidence in and around the water.

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