Summer isn’t officially over yet and many people are taking advantage of the last weeks of summer to enjoying water activities in Simcoe Muskoka’s many lakes, rivers, recreational facilities and private pools. Whether you are diving in for a swim, cruising along in a boat or splashing by the water’s edge, taking precautions will help ensure your experience isn’t a washout.
Parachute Canada reports that drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for Canadians. Many people are injured while doing activities where they never expected to enter the water, such as unexpectedly falling into water while boating or into a backyard pool. You can avoid becoming a statistic with the following water safety tips from the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
Avoid swimming alone
Children should never swim alone or be left unsupervised when around any body of water. Make sure there is an experienced swimmer in sight and within reach. It is also recommended that adults swim with a buddy, as even the strongest swimmers can need help.
Be prepared, get trained
Learning to swim is important but water safety mean more than knowing the strokes, children and youth learn about water safety. Taking a first aid course and learning water rescue and safety skills can assist you to safely help others is also important to know what to do if there is an emergency.
If you drink, don’t drive your boat
Operating a boat or watercraft takes the same care and attention as driving a car. Consuming alcohol and boating don’t mix as it impairs attention, concentration and judgement, and is a major contributing factor in drowning while boating. Avoid the use of cannabis and other drugs as well.
Wear a lifejacket or PFD
Lifejackets and personal flotation devices (PFD) are important to water safety and knowing their differences and which to use will help you determine which is best for your situation. Lifejackets are more buoyant and are designed to turn an unconscious person from face down to face up in the water, allowing them to breathe. Lifejackets are the best choice for children and adults who are unable to swim or are weak swimmers, and they offer wearers the best possible chance for survival should they end up in the water unexpectedly.
PFDs are less buoyant and are designed to keep a conscious person afloat in calm conditions. Designed for use in recreational boating, they can be a good choice for people who are confident in the water.
To learn more about water safety, visit smdhu.org or call Health Connection on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.