There’s no ONE reason that people drown. But there are factors that come together to increase your risk of drowning. This blog post is the second of two that breaks down the numbers in the Lifesaving Society’s 2017 Ontario Drowning Report.
Check out part one for the who, when, where and what.
Why? The risk factors.
We’ve learned the first four W’s of water-related fatalities in Ontario. So now the question remains - why do these deaths happen in the first place? Risk factors change depending on what age group you’re looking at.
In kids under 5, the #1 risk factor for drowning is that there was either no supervision OR the person supervising was distracted. Improper supervision contributed to 92% of deaths of kids in this age range. The next highest risk factor, at 63%, was that kids were alone near the water. What’s most sad here isn’t the loss of young life, but the fact that all of these deaths were preventable. This is why it’s recommended that childproof gates be installed around every pool and that parents actively supervise when their kids are swimming.
The next age category that the Lifesaving Society identified is kids aged five to 14. Here, the biggest risk factor was only being in the company of other minors. Even if your child is a confident swimmer, there should always be an adult supervising when kids are in the water.
Above the age of 15, risk factors become common among all age groups. The top risk factor in all adult drowning deaths is not wearing a personal floatation device when relevant. According to the Canadian Red Cross, 87% of drowning deaths that happen while boating occur when the victim either isn’t wearing a PFD or didn’t have it done up properly. In most of these cases, victims never intended to enter the water.
After not wearing a PFD, the next three risk factors for adult drowning deaths were:
- Alcohol consumption
- After dark
This is a lot of information - but what can we do with it? By controlling for any or all of these factors, you can actively decrease drowning risk for yourself, your family and your friends.
Is it dusk at the cottage and your husband (who’s had a few beers) wants to go out for a swim? Maybe you can convince him to wait until morning. Or, your 20-something nephew is taking the younger cousins out for a ride on the family’s boat? Why not ensure every person aboard - your nephew included - is wearing a properly fastened PFD?
Knowing these risk factors grants you the power to act against them. Stay safe this summer. And happy swimming!