A safety campaign warning lake-goers of water dangers caught the eyes of visitors to the lakefront July 24.
A number of beach towels, void of any occupants, in large, bold letters bore the message: “Before you think only other swimmers drown, have a word with yourself”. That message was accompanied by an array of hand-outs and leaflets explaining the dangers of water activity, as well as safety tips to help avoid those dangers.
Reminding parents to keep their children nearby while they’re in the water and encouraging life jacket use were the primary goals of the initiative, which took place in the middle of Drowning Prevention Week, July 20 to 26.
A Safe Communities Central Alberta media release notes that the majority of Canadian drowning deaths occur between May and August, making the event’s timing particularly important.
Drowning has claimed the life of more than 570 children in Canada since 2004. Each year, another 140 are taken to hospital after coming close to drowning.
Organizers feel most drownings and near-drownings can be avoided by simply influencing a change in people’s attitudes and behaviours.
“We all lead busy and hectic lives — taking that one moment to have a word with yourself could prevent injury and save your life or your child’s life,” read one of the hand-outs spread among the towels.
The majority of drownings in Canada take place in outdoor areas such as lakes, rivers and streams, according to the Community Against Preventable Injuries. Young children in the bathtub are also at risk, it notes.
Statistics show that although some Canadians believe their children to be safe near water without wearing a lifejacket, the majority of drowning victims enter the water without meaning to do so.
More information on water safety and drowning prevention is available on the following websites belonging to participating organizations: www.parachutecanada.org; www.preventable.ca; www.redcross.ca; and www.lifesaving.org.