Summer is wrapping up in the Peace Region and people often use the long weekend for one last summer hurrah, though it’s important to stay safe.
Drowning deaths have increased by more than 50 per cent in the last year, and authorities are asking people to be careful at Peace Island Park in Taylor, Rotary Park in Dawson Creek and Charlie Lake.
The BC Coroners Service released a statistic that shows 34 people have drowned in recreational incidents in the province between July 1 and Aug. 21 – five of them were in the north. This represents an increase of more than 50 per cent when compared to 2011. Only 22 people drowned during all of July and August, while there were 24 for the full two-month period in 2010.
“The risk in many activities such as rafting, tubing and canoeing is likely to be much higher than might otherwise be expected,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe.
According the BC Coroners service, nearly half of the deaths took place in lakes, while another 11 occurred in rivers. The rest were in the ocean or in swimming pools.
Of the 34 who passed away, only five were female. Seven died because of unexpectedly falling into water, while an additional seven died while swimming. The rest were boating, attempting to cliff-dive or rafting/tubing.
Investigation into these deaths is still ongoing, though the BC Coroners Service said that some could have been prevented through better water safety measures.
Some of these measures include wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) when boating – it’s also important to ensure that it fits properly.
They also warn against alcohol when engaged in activities near water because it “impairs co-ordination and judgment.”
Of the 404 accidental drownings in British Columbia over the past five years, alcohol or drugs were “noted to be contributing factors” in more than two out of five of those deaths, or 42.3 per cent.
The coroner’s service also warns to be aware of water conditions, never dive into unknown waters and always supervise children while anywhere near water.