Red Cross urges parents to watch children closely around water

Topics: National, Water Safety
June 28, 2012


(Ottawa) – A child can disappear from sight within minutes and it takes less than three centimetres of water for a baby to drown. On this long weekend, the Red Cross encourages Canadians to stay safe when enjoying water activities, and reminds parents and caregivers about the importance of supervising children closely around water.

“We have seen an alarming number of drownings over the past few weeks,” says Shelley Dalke, manager of national swimming and water safety programs for the Canadian Red Cross. “Parents and caregivers need to be vigilant at all times when children have access to any body of water, no matter how big or small.”

Each year, an average of 400 Canadians drown, and more than half of those occur during the summer months. Recent polling shows that despite significant water safety education and awareness programming, there is still a gap in Canadians’ behaviour around the water: Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Canadian children ages one to four. Backyard pools are especially dangerous for small children. For 51 per cent of Canadians, their only strategy to prevent injuries related to backyard pools is‘not allowing children under 10 to access the pool area’. This approach relies too much on verbal commands. In addition to active supervision, Dalke also recommends ensuring adequate barriers are in place for backyard pools such as four-sided fencing along with a self-closing, self-latching gate, and advises that portable toddler pools should be emptied after each use.

“Swimming skills alone aren’t always enough to save a life,” says Dalke. “Learning to swim is important, but learning water safety is key to preventing an emergency in or on the water. Swimming skills combined with safety knowledge and skills save lives.”

The Red Cross Swim program teaches both swimming and water safety skills, and offers levels for preschool children to youth. The infant program – Red Cross Swim Preschool - focuses on providing caregivers with safety skills, knowledge and strategies on how to effectively supervise children around water.

The Canadian Red Cross has been helping to keep Canadians safe in, on and around water since 1946. For more information about Canadian Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or for safety tips, visit

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