A quick cool-down dip could spell trouble for first-time swimmers, says a Lifesaving Society researcher – CBC.ca | WHs Answers

With dozens of drowning deaths in Ontario this year, a senior research officer for the Lifesaving Society is reminding people that being able to swim could make a big difference if people want to enjoy the water this summer.

“We believe that learning to swim is like being immunized against drowning,” Barbara Byers told CBC KW.

“It’s not a guarantee but it really increases your chances of being safe in the water and also having so much fun and enjoyment and all the water that we have in Canada with our short summers to really enjoy the water. “

There have been 54 drowning deaths in the province this year as of Tuesday, according to the Lifesaving Society.

With so many people choosing to stay in Ontario, take day trips to a lake, nature reserve or beach, or just go camping, Byers fears the number of drownings could increase, especially if people aren’t regular swimmers.

“One thing about swimming is that it’s harder than it looks,” Byers said.

“I think a lot of people are like, ‘Oh wow, I like the water, I can get in, I can move my arms a bit and I might be fine,’ but really, you need some lessons or some guidance on how to swim properly and certainly get the breath and breath control going.”

Barbara Byers of the Lifesaving Society reminds people that “drowning can happen very quickly, in about 20 seconds, and is very quiet.” (Shannon Martin/CBC Toronto)

Byers said many people think they can just go into the water, but warned that lakes in particular can be treacherous.

“When you’re in a situation where you’re at a lake [and] It’s easy to get in the water, it’s a sandy beach and you go in and you play and have fun, if you’re not a good swimmer and you take a step and you’re in a drop off area it could just be absolutely devastating be because bam you’re over your head, you’ve got your head under the water, maybe you’ll get a sip of water,” she said. “It’s sudden, it’s unexpected.”

Byers also reminds people that “drowning can happen very quickly, in about 20 seconds, and is very quiet.” Just a sip of water can affect a person’s respiratory system, she said.

“I think there’s often a lot of that at this time of year, people are just in the water… but maybe [they] They don’t have the skills and training to be safe in water that’s over their heads.

Recent drownings

During the long weekend of Citizens’ Holidays, a man also drowned after falling off a boat in Lake Ontario, while another man died while tubing.

Lately too two drownings in the Guelph Lake Conservation Area over a period of two weeks.

Hilal Ahmad Najeebi, 14, of Mississauga, drowned Sunday while swimming near the island in Guelph Lake. On July 18, Rayan Kaber, 21, also of Mississauga, drowned while swimming at Main Beach. The nature reserve has installed buoy lines at both swimming areas in the park.

Grand River Conservation Authority spokesman Cameron Linwood said the agency is working with the Wellington County OPP “to share information on water safety as a result of the two tragic drownings at Guelph Lake this summer.”

“Visitors to Grand River Conservancies are strongly encouraged to take personal responsibility to ensure the safety of themselves and their children…especially activities that take place on or near bodies of water,” Linwood said in an email.

Linwood said swimmers are encouraged:

  • Swim in designated areas and stay within the buoy line.
  • Only swim at designated beaches or pools and always swim with a buddy.
  • Wear a personal flotation device.
  • Leave the water if a thunderstorm or lightning is approaching (this applies to any activity in or near water).
  • Note that there are no lifeguards on duty.
  • Note that water rescue equipment is located at all designated swimming areas and boat docks within the sanctuary.

Lack of swimming lessons

Byers said she’s been very concerned about the lack of swimming lessons over the past two years, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said the Lifesaving Society runs a program called Swim to Survive, which offers survival swimming programs for students in grades 3 and 7.

COVID-19 forced the program’s cancellation for a year, but Byers said it will return this fall.

“And I’m happy to hear that municipalities are starting swimming lessons again like they did this summer … so I’m hoping parents can get used to enrolling their children in classes again,” she said.

Meanwhile, Byers is urging people planning to go swimming this summer to “be very careful with themselves” and “be extra careful with children, just to make sure they don’t go beyond their skill level or ability.” “.

She says when in doubt, people should wear life jackets.

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