In Ontario, elementary school-age children 5 to 12 years of age
have been at less risk of drowning than other stages of
life. Drowning victims in this age group tend to
be in the water as opposed to toddlers who tend
to be near the water.
Lakes and rivers are the settings that account for more than
half of drowning among 5 to 12-year-olds. Playing in water and
swimming are what two-thirds of 5 to 12-year-old victims were doing
when they drowned.
One-quarter of victims were non-swimmers. And although children
of this age are often playing with friends, one-quarter of victims
were alone and another one-quarter were with other minors (no
Drowning prevention tips
Learn to swim.
Parents should ensure their children learn to swim - a
fundamental requirement to prevent drowning. Because most
non-swimmers do not take swimming lessons as adults, it is crucial
that children learn to swim when they are young. But surveys tell
us that half of Canadian children have never taken swimming
In its Swim to Survive® Standard, the Lifesaving Society defines
the minimum standard of basic swimming skill for Canadians: roll
into deep water, tread water for one minute and swim 50
metres. These are the essential minimum skills required to survive
an unexpected fall into deep water.
The Lifesaving Society's Swim and Lifesaving programs
offer a wide range of aquatic training well beyond the Swim to
Swim in supervised areas.
Parents should ensure their children swim only at lifeguarded
pools and beaches, and under direct adult supervision at the
cottage or in the backyard.
Swim with a buddy.
Over half of child drowning victims are alone. In many cases,
lives would be saved if someone with them used a reaching aid or
called for assistance. Lives will be saved if children learn this
never-swim-alone message and adopt this behaviour throughout their
Wear your lifejacket.
Most drowning victims never intend to be in the water, certainly
not boaters. Ninety per cent of victims in boating fatalities are
not wearing lifejackets. Ironically, it's not unusual to see
children in a boat wearing lifejackets but not the
adults. Putting on your lifejacket when you get into a boat
should become as normal as putting on your seatbelt when you get
into the car.
Ice is risky - always. Measure clear hard ice in several
Each winter drowning as a result of falling through ice makes
headlines. Never go on the ice alone. A buddy may be able to rescue
you or go for help if you get into difficulty. Keep away from
unfamiliar paths or unknown ice. Before you leave shore, inform
someone of your destination and expected time of return.