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. Between 2001/02-2010/11, there were approximately 175 near-drowning cases per year in BC that resulted in hospitalization and annually, there are some 55 drowning deaths in the province.

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Quick Facts & Stats


  • 50% of children who drown are alone and unsupervised.
  • In BC, 59% of drowning deaths to 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 (40%) and water transport (27%).
  • 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 2004 the total cost of drowning in BC was $17.6M (direct costs: $1.6M; indirect costs: $16.0M).


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 your child and yourself in swimming lessons.
  • Ensure everyone is wearing an approved personal flotation device 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

Pool Fencing

Here are some valuable resources from SafeKids Canada regarding Pool Fencing:

Useful Websites