Two search boats patrol off Sunbreaker Cove on Sylvan Lake Tuesday afternoon looking for a 43-year-old man, who was missing after the boat he was riding in capsized, before his body was discovered Saturday morning. (File photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Drowning deaths on the rise in Alberta

Two victims in Central Alberta were not wearing lifejackets.

Following two recent water-related deaths in Central Alberta, swimmers and boaters are being urged to stay safe in the water.

A 57-year-old woman drowned in Gull Lake on Aug. 12 after the inflatable dinghy she was on capsized and a 43-year-old man’s body was recovered on Saturday, about a week after the boat he was riding in capsized on Sylvan Lake.

So far in 2017, there have been 21 media-reported drowning deaths in Alberta, up from the 14 drownings last year, according to the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

“It’s really unfortunate we’ve had an increase in the number of drownings. I don’t know if there’s any real rhyme or reason as to why,” said Mandy Fisher, development and operations manager for the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

In both recent incidents in Central Alberta, the victims weren’t wearing lifejackets.

A lifejacket “won’t work if you don’t wear it,” she said. “By having a properly fitted lifejacket on, you can significantly increase your chances of survival.”

By law, boaters are required to have lifejackets in the boat with them, but aren’t required to wear them. Putting on the jacket is an easy way to keep yourself safe, Fisher said.

Making sure you stay sober when heading out on the water is important too, she added. Alcohol plays a part in almost 40 per cent of boating-related fatalities and in one out of three drowning deaths, the casualty had consumed alcohol.

In the case of the 57-year-old woman, Blackfalds RCMP said she was not a strong swimmer.

“We recommend all people learn to swim – it’s a life skill all people should have,” said Fisher.

Sixteen of the 21 drownings in the province this year have happened since June 1, as the summer is the busiest time for water-related deaths.

The total number of drownings has been going down over the past decade and Fisher said she hopes this year is more of an outlier than a trend.

“Having a profound respect for the water is important because conditions can change very quickly in Alberta and the water can be quite cold and deep,” she said.

Fisher also said parents need to make sure children receive constant and focused supervision when they are in the water.

“You have to put your phone down, designate someone to be the lifeguard or watcher for the children in the water to make sure they are safe,” she said.

sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

Just Posted

Red Deer College waiting for feds to finalize marijuana legalization

Like businesses, Alberta and municipal governments, Red Deer College is waiting for… Continue reading

Class size only part of the problem say Central Alberta teachers

Though the Alberta auditor general’s report points out that classroom sizes continue… Continue reading

Lacombe County promoting crime prevention measures

County pushing Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles

Red Deer doctor concerned about patient transfers to rural hospitals

Family physician says the move creates less incentive for expansion at Red Deer hospital

Fire permit season begins in March

Earlier springs in last few years prompted Alberta government to move up fire permit season

WATCH: Red Deer’s River Bend upgrades officially open

River Bend Golf and Recreation Area is the latest venue to be… Continue reading

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Stores make push in scan and go tech, hope shoppers adopt it

NEW YORK — Shoppers at self-checkout lanes scanning all their groceries after… Continue reading

‘Stars seemed to have aligned’ for new Halifax CFL bid, commissioner says

HALIFAX — CFL fans in Halifax have been told the league is… Continue reading

The language of ‘Black Panther’? It’s real. Give it a try.

OTTAWA — The military’s top general has promised to get to the… Continue reading

New execution date set for Georgia’s ‘stocking strangler’

ATLANTA — A man known as the “stocking strangler,” who was convicted… Continue reading

Man says he kicked Chevy Chase in self-defence in dispute

SOUTH NYACK, N.Y. — A New York man says he kicked Chevy… Continue reading

Supporters of Tina Fontaine’s family march in Winnipeg to support her family

WINNIPEG — Hundreds marched through the streets of Winnipeg on Friday in… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month