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B.C. paramedics urge caution as summer drowning incidents on the rise in 2020

On average, 67 per cent of B.C.’s water-related deaths occur during June, July and August

B.C. paramedics are reminding people to be careful in or around the water this summer as they respond to a higher than normal number of drownings or near drownings.

According to B.C. Emergency Health Services, paramedics have responded to 149 water incidents so far this summer, with two more weeks left in August. The figures, provided as of the Aug.15-16 weekend, are already above the 138 water-related calls paramedics attended over the three summer months in 2019. On average, 67 per cent of B.C.’s water-related deaths occur during June, July and August.

This past weekend followed that trend, B.C. EHS said, with 11 calls for drowning or near drowning incidents compared to the summer average of four. The agency’s warning also follows several recent fatal incidents, including a 20-year-old man from China on Harrison Lake on Sunday (Aug. 16), a 22-year-old student from India who drowned in Cultus Lake on July 25 and a Surrey realtor who drowned trying to save his daughter in the Okanagan on Father’s Day.

READ MORE: Surrey realtor drowns in Okanagan trying to save daughter

READ MORE: Student from India drowns at Cultus Lake

READ MORE: Harrison Lake drowning victim identified as 20-year-old man from China

So far this summer, paramedics responded to 42 calls in June, 73 calls in July and 44 calls in the first two weeks of August. Last year, they responded to 35 calls in June, 55 in July and 48 in all of August.

Broken up by health authority, there have been 21 calls for drowning incidents in Interior Health, 19 in Island Health, 18 in Vancouver Coastal, nine in Fraser Health and six in Northern Health.

To prevent drowning deaths, B.C. EHS recommends:

  • Building a fence with a self-closing gate to surround all pools
  • Supervise children around water at all times, even if it is just an inflatable pool or even a bucket
  • Enrol yourself and your child in swimming lessons
  • Make sure everyone is wearing a PFD or lifejacket on a boat, and on the beach or dock for weak swimmers
  • Learn CPR and other lifesaving techniques
  • Do not consume alcohol before or during swimming or boating

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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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