Are Canadians underestimating the risk of drowning for children?

Topics: Water Safety
July 25, 2013

Are Canadians underestimating the risk of drowning for children?

Classic summertime activities like swimming in the pool or heading to the beach are certainly fun, but they aren't without their fair share of dangers. The risk of drowning is something that everyone should take seriously when heading to the water, especially for the parents of children or youth. According to water safety research conducted by the Red Cross, drowning is the second most common cause of preventable death among children 10 years of age and younger.

While it is clear that children drowning is a significant concern for families in Canada, are Canadians continuing to underestimate how easily drowning can occur? Based on the Red Cross' study, many parents are not adequately informed about the necessary precautions and measures needed to keep children and youth safe while swimming. Fatal incidents often happen quickly and without warning, so it is essential that parents remain alert when enjoying water activities with their children during the summer months.

Canadian Red Cross is dedicated to water safety
As one of Canada's leading non-profit organizations, the Canadian Red Cross has made water safety and drowning prevention one of its main focuses. With the summer season officially here, the Canadian Red Cross urges parents to take special precautions to keep their children safe in, on and around the water, whether they're playing in the ocean, a lake or a backyard swimming pool. Approximately 60 per cent of all child drowning cases in Canada occur between the months of June and August, so it is important that parents stay vigilant.

While nearly 98 per cent of parents pay attention to the level of water depth in which their children play, many drownings can occur in relatively shallow areas. In fact, 40 per cent of child drownings occur in less than a metre of water - 90 per cent of these cases happen without a supervising adult nearby.

About 15 per cent of child water deaths occur in backyard swimming pools, often due to a lack of proper fencing around the area. Only 50 per cent of parents believe that pools require four sides of fencing to be considered child-safe. However, 70 per cent of swimming pool drownings happen in pools with a fence that is not up to safety standards or that do not have a fence at all.

"Children can drown quickly and quietly, and often in situations where they were not expected to enter the water," says Rick Caissie, national director for first aid, swimming and water safety at the Canadian Red Cross. "Only one-third of children and youth who drown in Canada were taking part in aquatic activities that parents typically see as risky, like swimming or wading. One-third of children drown in situations where they enter the water unexpectedly, like by falling from a dock or entering the water without their caregiver's knowledge."

The Canadian Red Cross depends on the support of people like you to maintain its water safety programs as well as education and relief operations at home and across the globe. Please donate today to help make a difference.