The potential for increased drowning among older adults and seniors will continue as more "baby boomers" retain the same behaviours of their younger years, despite reduced physical capabilities that come with age, which are sometimes hard to admit. In addition, certain medical conditions and medications may affect a person's physical ability or mental capacity.
Seniors pose a high drowning risk in bathtubs and provate pools.
Important tips and reminders for older adults:
- Boat with a buddy, never alone.
- Wear a lifejacket when boating.
- Be realistic about encroaching health limitations. Know your heart health through regular check-ups and don't take more risks any more in, on or near the water.
- Understand the possible effects of any medication you may be taking on your swimming ability or endurance, and be especially careful to avoid combining any medications with alcohol and water activity.
- Take care getting in and out of bathtubs. Install grab-bars designed for weight-bearing to aid entry and exit movement in your bathtub. Have someone close enough to hear you and respond should you have a problem.
- Always wear your lifejacket or PFD and avoid high-risk cold-water situations - especially alone or after dark. You may become more sensitive and less resistant to cold as you get older so take precautions to avoid exposure to the effects of cold water and hypothermia.
- Clear, hard, new ice is the only kind of ice recommended for travel. Avoid slushy ice, ice on moving water (rivers, currents), or ice that has thawed and refrozen. Wear a thermal protection buoyant suit to increase your chance of survival if you go through.
Learn to Swim
Basic swimming ability is a fundamental requirement in any meaningful attempt to eliminate drowning in Canada. The Lifesaving Society offers training programs from learn-to-swim through advanced lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership.
Our Swim for Life program stresses lots of in-water practice to develop solid swimming strokes and skills. We incorporate valuable Water Smart® education that will last a lifetime.
Swim to Survive is a Lifesaving Society survival training program. Swim to Survive is not a subsititute for swimming lessons; instead, it defines the minimum skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water. People of all ages should be able to perform the Society's Swim to Survive standard.