Group urges long weekend safety after 20-year-drowning record broken

EDMONTON — The Alberta and Northwest Territories branch of the Lifesaving Society says the 2021 summer has been one of the deadliest in terms of drownings.

The group has counted 25 fatal and 15-non fatal media-reported incidents in the two regions, the highest count in two decades.

Most recently an Edmonton man died when his canoe flipped over on a lake west of the capital city.

Another man’s body was found days after he disappeared during a paddle boarding incident near Calgary.

The Lifesaving Society attributes the influx to higher usage of natural water bodies during the pandemic and limited access to indoor pools and swimming lessons.

“This Labour Day long weekend, the Lifesaving Society urges Albertans, and all visitors, to exercise reasonable caution around Alberta’s waterfronts, lakes, and rivers as conditions change and the water becomes colder,” a statement from the society read.

“All drownings can be prevented, if the right steps are taken.”

The group recommends:

  • Always keeping children within arm’s reach when swimming.
  • Wearing a lifejacket when boating.
  • Learning about the water conditions prior to entering a body of water.
  • Being honest about your swimming ability before entering a body of water. Do not go swimming in deep water without a lifejacket if you cannot swim.
  • Do not attempt to swim out and rescue someone in deep water if you are not trained to perform a rescue. Instead, immediately activate Emergency Services by calling 911.

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