The City of Kawartha Lakes is fortunate to have an abundance of natural bodies of water for fishing, boating and swimming.  With sunny days and warm weather, many people also enjoy private and public pools and even fill up the little toddler pools for their children.  However, drowning and near drowning accidents continue to occur.  

Its National Drowning Prevention Week (July 19-25, 2015) and time to take a moment to think about water safety.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for Canadian children. Most deaths of children aged one to four are in home pools, especially when they are not supervised. Drowning can happen quickly and silently.  Children of all ages are at the greatest risk of drowning in rivers, lakes and ponds.  A young child can drown in as little as 2.5 cm (one inch) of water in just seconds.

Almost 60 children drown every year and another 140 children are admitted to hospital because they nearly drowned.  Near-drowning can result in long-term health effects – it can affect the way a child thinks, learns and plays.  Added to the human toll, the financial toll of drowning is staggering; in Ontario, the total direct and indirect costs are estimated to be over $30 million per year (see more here).

According to the Ontario Drowning Report – 2015 Edition, between 2008 and 2012, 845 drownings occurred in Ontario waters.

What are the legal issues related to drownings and near drownings?  Pool owners and caretakers may be liable for injuries or deaths resulting from drowning accidents – they are held to a reasonable standard of care and are required to demonstrate that they have done everything reasonably possible to ensure that a pool is safe.  Homeowners with pools may be liable for a guests injuries or death.  Public pools are required to have lifeguards on duty and water depths must be marked.  Failure to supervise minors may lead to liability in the event of an injury or death.  An injured person and their family members may be entitled to make a claim for compensation, including pain and suffering, loss of income and costs of rehabilitation and long-term care.

In addition to following safety standards and procedures, ensuring safe equipment and constant supervision, the following are tips to help reduce the risk of child drownings:

– Stay within sight and arms reach of your child when in, on or around the water.

– Learn how to swim or have your child supervised by an experienced adult.

– Learn first aid and CPR.

– Young children and weak swimmers must wear lifejackets when in, on or around the water and on a boat.

– If you have a property (house or cottage) that is close to open water, fence off a play area for children that is away from the water.

– Put your child in swimming lessons.

-Teach your children about currents and water safety rules.

Swimming and water play are wonderful recreational and fitness activities for people of all ages.  So get out the bathing suits and sunscreen!  And be safe.

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