Emergency responders at the bridge on the Okanagan River Channel at Green Mountain Road and Highway 97 after a drowning incident. (Black Press Media files)

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

There have been a staggering 44 drownings in B.C. so far this year.

That’s compared to 28 water-related tragedies by this time in 2017, according to the Lifesaving Society, which is urging British Columbians to be prepared when heading for the water.

Dale Miller, executive director of the society’s B.C. and Yukon branch, said this year’s uptick follows years of declining fatalities from a high of 80 drownings in 2015.

“I believe the prolonged stretch of good weather this year is a factor,” he said in an email to Black Press Media. Roughly 67 per cent of all drownings in the province happen between May and September.

READ MORE: 10 things you didn’t know about life-jackets

WATCH: Near drowning captured on popular B.C. river

One statistic that sets this year apart from others, the society said, is that four of the drowning victims were would-be rescuers who got into trouble themselves while trying to save another person’s life.

Most drownings occurred while boating, according to the society’s 2018 report, followed by swimming. Roughly 37 per cent occurred on a lake or pond, 28 per cent in a river, 16 per cent in the ocean, seven per cent in a bathtub and four per cent in a pool.

Two of this year’s drownings happened on Buntzen Lake, the first involving a male teen and the second a man in his 40s. There, the underwater terrain often catches people off guard, rescue officials have said.

There have also been a number of close calls, such as along the choppy waters of the Chilliwack-Vedder River, which often results in log jams on curves of the channel.

According to drowning data over the last decade, a majority of water fatalities occur in southern B.C.

Statistics show all B.C. drowning incidents this year were preventable.

Risk factors that played a role in almost all the deaths, regardless of what the person was doing when they drowned, includes not wearing a personal flotation device, alcohol consumption and being out on the water alone.

Eighty-eight per cent of all drownings of a child are due to either distracted or non-existent supervision.

“All boaters and paddlers should wear a personal flotation device (PFD), not just have one in the boat with them,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in a June news release.

“Additionally, children, non-swimmers and weak swimmers should wear a PFD anytime they’re in or near the water. People don’t realize how quickly they can get into trouble – particularly when they’re in unfamiliar waters.”

To check out tips to stay safe near water, visit Lifesaving.bc.ca


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Single parent resource centre continues operations in partially-condemned building

Victoria’s 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre moves back into heritage home

Townhouses on the rise in popularity in Greater Victoria

A report finds 152 townhouse units in the construction pipeline and coming onto market in 2020.

‘More animals could have a chance:’ Victoria Humane Society in desperate need of a home

Animal rescue currently has 163 animals in foster and volunteer homes

Free-B Film Festival celebrates 20th anniversary

Head to Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park to see some family favourites on the big screen

Central Saanich accused of not following Climate Emergency declaration with urgent action

Motion to research climate response options and costs rejected then rescheduled in tense meeting

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Alberta judge denies B.C.’s bid to block ‘Turn Off the Taps’ bill

He said the proper venue for the disagreement is Federal Court

Most Read