Before jumping in a lake this summer, consider this solemn reminder: you could drown.
That fact is behind a campaign being brought to Sylvan Lake today in conjunction with National Drowning Prevention Week. From 3-5 p.m. that day towels will be laid out along the Sylvan beach that read “Before you think only other swimmers drown, have a word with yourself.”
“You lay them out and scatter around other beachy items, but there are no people there. So ‘Where are the people that go with these towels?’ is the discussion starter,” said Kathleen Raines, executive director of Safe Communities Coalition of Central Alberta.
The campaign was initiated in Ontario last year by two non-profits, and is spreading across Canada in 2014. Safe Communities plans to bring it to Gull Lake as well in late August.
Last year there were two drownings in Sylvan Lake. One of the victims fit into the 18-to-24 age group which experiences the most water-related deaths.
“It does happen in Central Alberta, in these lakes, which is why we’re doing it,” said Raines.
The towels will be set up near a life-jacket loaner station that operates at the site near the Beach Ambassador’s hut in Centennial Park. The self-serve kiosk allows beachgoers to borrow life-jackets available in a variety of sizes before returning them when out of the water.
Signs around the kiosk display a similar message to what Safe Communities is trumpeting: ‘You’re not expecting to need a life-jacket today.’
Raines said the main messages of the campaign are that children should be kept within arm’s reach while in the water and that they should be wearing life-jackets.
Within the last decade more than 570 children in Canada have drowned.