Swimming & Water Safety Education Campaigns

Drowning is Preventable

Canadians enjoy an abundance of recreational water activities in lakes, rivers, and oceans, as well as community and residential swimming pools. For many Canadians, water bodies are also part of their  daily living, livelihood, or way of life. Sadly, each year, tragic and avoidable water-related injuries and fatalities occur across Canada.

As a leader in water safety education and drowning research, the Red Cross is committed to preventing water-related injuries and fatalities. Our research is influential in determining Red Cross public education strategies and community initiatives, as well as identifying key messages and skills that all Canadians need to help them stay safe in, on and around the water.

Throughout the year, Red Cross shares water safety information regularly on our social accounts, including video, graphics and safety tips. In addition, we engage with our partners and the public on two annual campaigns—National Lifejacket Day and Water Safety Week—to raise awareness about the effectiveness of lifejackets in drowning prevention and to share tips and resources on how to stay safe when in, on, and around the water.

National Lifejacket Day

Red Cross urges lifejacket use for all boaters

For many Canadians, the summer season means enjoying outdoor activities such as fishing, powerboating or canoeing. But each year, tragic and avoidable boating-related fatalities occur across Canada. A study of the long-term trends indicates that the use of proper safety equipment such as a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) would greatly reduce this number.

Plan ahead to enjoy a safe day out on the water 

  • Before heading out on a boat this summer, ensure that all persons on board - even strong swimmers - are outfitted with a correctly sized lifejacket appropriate to the activity.
  • Have a plan before you head out on the water and be prepared for any possible weather changes or emergencies.
  • Be aware of and monitor the weather and water conditions, be prepared to head to the nearest point of safety if the conditions change.
  • Never consume alcohol before or during a boating outing, and ensure boaters know how to safely operate and load the vessel.

May 19th is National Lifejacket Day

On Thursday,  May 19, 2022, the Canadian Red Cross marks National Lifejacket Day, an annual campaign to encourage and promote the use of lifejackets and PFDs among boaters.

For information on boating safety and how to choose a lifejacket or PFD, download our tip sheet:
Health & safety tips - Lifejacket wear and boating safety


Water Safety Week

kids using float boards in a pool
June 4-11, 2022
, is Water Safety Week, an annual campaign to educate Canadians on how to stay safe around water and prevent drowning incidents.

Every year, approximately 520 Canadians die needlessly in unintentional water-related fatalities. A high percentage of these preventable water-related fatalities consist of young children, almost always due to lack of or inadequate supervision.

While you enjoy the summer months at cottages, lakes, and pools with your family, it’s important to keep these statistics and safety tips in mind to ensure the safety of your children:

  • Every year an average of 35 children ages 1-14 drown while swimming and playing in or around the water. Whether it’s in a pool, the bathtub, or the beach, children should always be actively supervised – even if they can swim. It’s not enough to be nearby, eyes need to be on kids all the time. 
  • Backyard pools should be properly fenced (non-climbable, recommended at least 1.2 metres in height, with gaps no larger than 10 cm, smooth surface and no horizontal structure to grasp), and have self-closing and self-latching gates, with an inside latch that is above the reach of children (and is locked when not in use).
  • Open water is very different than swimming in a pool - distance can be deceiving, and you often must contend with cold water, waves, currents, drop offs, sandbars, water visibility, undertows, and underwater obstacles, as well as watercrafts. Know the swimming area and be aware of sudden drop offs to deep water.

 Kids wearing lifejackets and huddled together in a poolWhile the ability to swim is important, swimming skills alone aren’t always enough to save a life. Learning water safety is key to preventing an emergency in or on the water, and also teaches what to do if you find yourself in an emergency situation. The Red Cross Swim program teaches both swimming skills, and water safety knowledge and skills – the most effective combination in preventing water–related injuries and fatalities. Stay safe this summer and ensure your knowledge and certifications are up-to-date by signing up for a course or viewing our safety tips.


75th anniversary of Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety in Canada

In 2021, Canadian Red Cross celebrates 75 years of swimming and water safety in Canada. Since 1946, Canadian Red Cross has been committed to preventing water-related injuries and fatalities, and teaching Canadians to be safe in, on, and around the water. We are proud to be recognized as a leader in water safety education and drowning research. Follow us online as we celebrate this milestone in our history and share what inspires our work to continue into the future.
Twitter: twitter.com/redcrosscanada
Facebook: facebook.com/canadianredcross
Instagram: instagram.com/redcrosscanada
Tik Tok: tiktok.com/@redcrosscanada

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