BC Water-Related Fatalities on the Rise

Did you know that nearly 500 Canadians die every year in water-related incidents?

And this year the numbers are climbing with an alarming 37 water-related fatalities reported in BC waters. This time last year the number was only 20.

Last week, a 42-year-old man died while tubing down a river near Courtenay. On June 30th, a four-year-old boy drowned in an in-ground Cowichan bay pool, and a 16-year-old exchange student died after going over Indian Arm’s Granite Falls.

BC’s most dangerous water spot is North Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon where sixteen people have died in the last 20 years.

One of the biggest concerns in the Lynn Canyon area is the link between alcohol and swimming. Those consuming alcohol seem to get braver when cliff jumping into the canyon’s cold waters, says RCMP Cpl. Richard De Jong.

“People know they can’t drink and drive, but don’t realize they shouldn’t drink and swim. People don’t seem to be getting the message that drinking and swimming is just as risky as drinking and driving,” says a spokeswoman for the BC Coroners Service.

Often drowning victims are very competent swimmers. This was the case of a 42-year-old Yukon man who was caught by an undertow in Kelowna’s Wood Lake. The man jumped in the water to help his two sons. The boys survived, but the father did not.

The Lifesaving Society of BC is a helpful resource with water-related safety tips and information on training programs.

The Lifesaving Society has named July 20th to 27th National Drowning Prevention Week. The goal is to reduce the number of water-related fatalities and drowning incidents through the promotion of key water safety messages.

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