Senior Scene May 8,2017

Did you know almost nine per cent of Canada is covered by freshwater? According to Environment Canada, this accounts for more than 890,000 square kilometers. Such a significant water presence in the country makes it absolutely critical that Canadians everywhere take measures to prevent drowning and avoid putting themselves and others in danger.

National Summer Safety Week was May 1 – 7, but based on the excessive amount of rainfall we have received recently, and the new ponds and lakes that have developed on people’s property; I felt it was appropriate to address the topic anyway.  The Canada Safety Council would like to remind Canadians about the inherent risk of being around water, the steps that can be taken to mitigate disaster before it occurs and the importance of taking swimming lessons.  And, for the seniors out there, it is never too late to learn how to swim.

According to the Lifesaving Society, the underlying demographic information continues to stay static, with the most represented groups in these statistics remaining people between the ages of 20 and 24 (accounting for 9.6 percent of the total in 2013,) people over the age of 65 (19.3 percent) and men (81.4 percent average over the last five years.)

A disproportionate amount of these fatalities occurs as a result of recreational activities, including more than a quarter of all fatalities occurring while boating. Many of these fatalities involved alcohol consumption, which can impair judgment, reaction time and sense of balance. Not only is drinking and boating illegal, but it is also not smart.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 82 percent of those involved in boating-related fatalities were not wearing personal flotation devices. Lifejackets save lives. Having one present in the boat but not accessible in emergency situations is not effective or useful. If you are planning on being near water, wear your lifejacket. You never know when something unexpected might happen and you are thrown in the water involuntarily.

To that point, only 25 per cent of unintentional fatalities were the result of aquatic activities where the victim intended on being in the water. This highlights quite clearly the importance of knowing how to swim. In an emergency, it is critical that you know how to get your head above the surface of the water and to keep it there. If you’re anything less than 100 per cent confident in your swimming abilities, take swimming lessons. It is never too late, and it is a lifelong skill that may very well end up being the difference for you some day.
Water is everywhere in the Quinte region. There are rivers, creeks, the lake, the bay, and swimming pools – both private and in communities. Did you know a person can drown in just 2 inches of water?  If you place a finger on one hand on the top of your nose and a finger of the other hand just below their mouth, Those 2 inches right there, your nose and your mouth immersed in water, can cause you to drown.
If you are an adult and would like to learn how to swim, the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre is an ideal place to engage in private or group lessons.  Call 613-966-4632 for more information.