RCMP urge B.C. swimmers to use caution and help reduce drowning incidents this summer

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The BC RCMP underwater recovery team (URT) says it sees a rise in the number of drownings during summer months as a result of people not paying attention to their surroundings, not wearing lifejackets and being unsure of their swimming abilities or unaware of the water conditions.

“We want to caution individuals who are not familiar with B.C.’s waters against finding themselves in precarious and consequential situations by not taking safety precautions and not being informed of the water conditions or being realistic about their swimming abilities,” said Sgt. Steve Pebernat, URT diving coordinator. 

“Many of the recoveries we attend to are preventable. We have a steady increase of new Canadians or foreign nationals that have passed away in B.C.’s waters.”

The Lifesaving Society of Canada designates this week National Drowning Prevention Week to bring attention to drownings and drowning prevention.

“The URT would like to remind people that the water in British Columbia can be cold and many creeks and rivers have strong currents, which is why it is important to always research and plan ahead, let someone know where you are going and bring necessary equipment to navigate B.C. waters,” said Pebernat.

RCMP recommend:

– Always swim with a buddy.

– Play and swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard where possible.

– Do not leave children unsupervised. Drowning can occur in as little as 10 seconds.

– If you cannot swim, wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device at all times.

– Observe conditions closely before you step out onto the shoreline and keep an eye on incoming waves.

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