BC Coroners urge water safety after four drowning deaths in just five days
With the promise of another sizzling summer weekend ahead, the BC Coroners Service is warning residents and visitors to take extra care when enjoying water-based activities, be it at lakes, rivers, pools or the seashore.
In the past five days (as of Friday), coroners in B.C. have begun investigations into four drowning deaths, reinforcing Coroners Service statistics that show a high percentage of drownings in B.C. occur in the summer months of May through August.
The four deaths occurred in different parts of B.C. and encompass four entirely different sets of circumstances – a three-year-old child in a backyard swimming pool, a teenager who slipped and fell while playing at the top of a waterfall, a middle-aged man tubing on a fast-running river and another man who died in a swimming incident in an Interior lake.
The variety of cases shows the many dangers that water can hold and thus the need for extra vigilance whether swimming, boating or even just walking along the edge of a body of water. A review of drowning deaths over the past five years shows that many victims are unfamiliar with the waters involved and therefore don’t see the risk or underestimate it.
Those risks can include such things as unexpected currents, steep and sudden drop offs, or unusually high water levels because of heavy rains or late spring runoff. In a fast-flowing river, six inches of water can sweep a person downstream and two feet can carry away most vehicles.
The Coroners Service also stresses that alcohol and water-based activities don’t go together, any more than drinking and driving do. The review showed that fully 40 per cent of the victims were impaired by alcohol or drugs.