Summer swimming safety, tips to prevent drowning

By Vanessa Ybarra
July 13, 2017 - 6:00pm

KAMLOOPS — With the summer season comes an increased risk of drowning.

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, fatal drownings are most common in the summer months, with 14-per cent of all drownings occurring in August alone.

While alcohol and drug consumption are the main cause of adult drownings, passive parenting and not keeping a close eye on little ones can play a large part in child drowning deaths.

Like most kids, the children taking part in swimming lessons as the downtown YMCA love to be in the water.

Little do they know the front and back kicks they're learning could save their life.

"We start with getting their faces wet, that's the biggest fear that you can't breathe when you're in the water," said Anna Martin, Aquatics Director for the Kamloops YMCA. "From there, we move onto floating and that's a big one for safety. If a child can learn to float on their back, that can save their life."

Martin says registering your kids in swimming lessons is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of drowning at the lake or river this summer.

Then there's parent monitoring

"All it takes is one gulp of water and they can go down silently," said Martin. "Any child under seven doesn't always have the best judgement, so you need to know where they are at all times. Even young teens, they can make stupid decisions when having fun so they also need to be monitored."

Martin says one of the hidden water dangers is secondary drowning where a person ingests a large amount of water and begins drowning from the inside out.

"Common signs are sudden difficulty breathing or coughing up a pink mucus. If that happens they need to be rushed to emergency right away."

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, of all the drowning in B.C, swimming-related drownings are second on the list, with the first being drownings that occur while boating.

"It's important that if you do do any sports around the water that you do wear a flotation device," said Corporal Jodi Shelkie with the Kamloops RCMP. "People also shouldn't go swimming alone and always make sure someone on board knows CPR"

Almost half of all drowning deaths in B.C. are alcohol or drug-related.

Kamloops RCMP continue to urge the public to leave the booze off-board.

"Alcohol and water don't mix," said Shelkie. "When you've been drinking, you have a lack of coordination and lessening of judgement. It's just not a good situation."

YMCA staff are also reminding parents of little ones to lay off the alcoholic beverages at the beach.

"We see it all the time," said Martin. " Alcohol can hit you fast. Somebody needs to be there that has a clear mind. Our message is to enjoy the water. Once you're educate and aware of what can happen, it's a great place to get out and enjoy."

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