The Lifesaving Society says it’s important for people in, on and around the water to know their surroundings. File photo by ADVOCATE staff

Lifesaving Society reminding Albertans to be safe in water this weekend

The Lifesaving Society is reminding Albertans to be safe if they plan on being in, on or around water during the long weekend.

People should not boat or swim alone, and it’s important to wear a lifejacket and avoid alcohol, the society said in a release Friday.

“Alcohol consumption is a major risk factor in boating and swimming related fatalities, particularly for young adults,” said the Lifesaving Society, which is a national non-profit organization that works to prevent drowning and water-related injury.

“Alcohol and cannabis influences balance, co-ordination and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure, wind, waves and dehydration, making it more difficult to get yourself out of trouble.”

Swimmers should know their surroundings as well, the society added.

“According to the 2020 Alberta Drowning Report, 56 per cent of all drownings in Alberta happened in lakes, ponds and rivers. Be mindful that large bodies of water can be unpredictable.”

A recent survey released by British Columbia’s power authority shows most people overestimate their swimming ability and may be more at risk of drowning.

The online survey conducted by BC Hydro between June 18 to 22 included 600 people and shows 85 per cent of respondents rated themselves as experienced swimmers, though most do not swim often.

Hydro says the results suggest some people are not as prepared as they would like to think when they’re swimming in reservoirs, so it’s best to avoid a false sense of security.

Only 63 per cent of respondents, aged 18 to 65, said they go swimming a few times each summer, and 10 per cent of them indicate they’ve never had any swimming lessons.

The utility says a lack of practice in the water could be why almost 30 per cent of survey respondents reported they have had a near drowning experience and 53 per cent had seen someone in the water in distress.

Nearly 50 per cent of people have gone into the water under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, and of those, men are 30 per cent more likely to be under the influence than women when swimming, says the survey, which has a margin of error of plus or minus four per cent, 19 times out of 20.

It says 20 per cent of those surveyed admitted to swimming out of bounds and men were 70 per cent more likely than women to venture into those areas.

–With files from The Canadian Press



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

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