Drowning is a leading cause of death for children and near-drowning can result in lengthy hospital stays and can have life-long effects such as brain damage. On average in BC, there are 41 near-drowning cases that resulted in an acute hospitalization and 53 drowning deaths per year.
Quick Facts & Stats
- 50% of children who drown are alone and unsupervised.
- In BC, 60% of drowning deaths among children and youth occur in natural waters during swimming or water transport-related activities such as boating and jet skiing.
- The greatest number of drowning deaths occur among males in natural water (46%) and water transport (28%).
- Drowning is the leading cause of death in BC for toddlers 1-4 years of age, who tend to drown in bathtubs or swimming pools.
- For each toddler who dies from drowning, there are 6 to 10 near-drowning cases that require hospitalization.
- 24% of drowning deaths occur in swimming pools and 18% occur in bathtubs; For infants, 64% drown in bathtubs.
- Teens and adults tend to drown in natural water, whereas infants and toddlers tend to drown in bathtubs or swimming pools.
- Among the survivors of near-drowning, 20% sustain permanent brain damage.
- In 2010, the total cost of drowning to British Columbians was $25 million.
Prevention Tips – At Home
- Supervise children at all times. A small child can drown in as little as 1 inch of water in just a few seconds.
- If a young child is unable to swim, ensure s/he is wearing an approved flotation device.
- Build a fence (4 sided, 4 ft tall) with a self-closing, self-latching gate to surround all pools, including inflatable pools. Pool fencing can prevent 7 out of 10 drownings among children.
- Ensure you have emergency equipment including a first aid kit and a phone in the immediate pool area.
Prevention Tips – During Recreation
- Make sure children are well supervised by responsible adults at all times in and around water. Be a child’s lifeguard!
- Enroll yourself and your child in swimming lessons.
- Ensure everyone is wearing an approved personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket on a boat, at the beach, or at the lake.
- Learn CPR and/or lifesaving techniques.
- Be cautious about swimming in currents, and know what to do if you get into trouble.
- Alcohol should not be consumed before or during swimming or boating activities.
- When hiking, be mindful of staying on the trails and avoid fast-flowing rivers.
Information & Resources
Personal Floatation Device Sizing Chart for Children
Source: Canadian Red Cross, 2009
Here are some valuable resources from SafeKids Canada regarding Pool Fencing:
- Position Statement: Pool Drowning and the Need for Pool Fencing
- Presentation: The Need for Pool Fencing Laws
- Pool Fencing Checklist
- Pool Fencing Diagram