Early Water Safety Manual

Date / Period
Object Type
Books, Guides and Manuals
Canadian Red Cross
Swimming and Water Safety
While water-based activities provide Canadians with much exercise and pleasure, they can also be deadly. On average, around 525 people each year across the country drown or suffer other water-related fatalities. 

From the introduction of pre-beginner and beginner levels in its water safety program in 1950 to narrow the gap between those who can and can’t swim, the Canadian Red Cross has stressed the importance of teaching critical knowledge to prevent injuries and worse. Over time, the program has incorporated the findings of research supporting the use of equipment such as lifejackets while enjoying boating and other leisurely activities.

By the 1990s, the Red Cross partnered with the Canadian Coast Guard and National Association of Coroners to conduct extensive research into water-related fatalities to improve safety programs. A decade-long study launched in 1991 showed that drowning ranked fourth among causes of death through unintended injury, following highway fatalities, falls, and poisoning. Yet awareness was working, as the study showed an overall decline in deadly drownings.

A further study extended through 2010 showed that despite campaigns to promote water safety, too many deaths continued to occur due to alcoholic impairment or failing to wear a lifejacket. One of the most shocking figures showed that 83 per cent of fatalities occurred among men aged 15 to 34.

Among the actions the Red Cross is taking to drive home the risks surrounding water-based activities is having youth participating in swimming programs keep their clothes on. Doing so allows them to experience the problems associated with people who suddenly fall into water, building a stronger sense of how to stay safe. 

Early Water Safety Manual

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