Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau declared July 21 to 27 National Drowning Prevention Week in Manitoba. Rondeau urges Manitobans to think safety first when swimming, boating or taking part in other water-based activities.
“Over the past three years, 38 Manitobans lost their lives due to drowning,” said Rondeau. “By increasing awareness of water safety and drowning prevention programs, many of these tragedies can be prevented.”
National Drowning Prevention Week is a lifesaving initiative sponsored by the Lifesaving Society of Canada. It is devoted to raising awareness of the risks of drowning and, in 2012, National Drowning Prevention Week is focused on two key messages:
• always wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while in or near water; and
• keep children within arm’s reach when swimming or playing in water.
Carl Shier, CEO of the Lifesaving Society – Manitoba Branch and chair of the Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters, urged parents and caregivers to give children their undivided attention around water.
“A moment’s distraction is all it takes for a tragedy to occur so children need to be within arm’s reach at all times,” said Shier. “Also, when you’re in or near the water, wearing a PFD can be a life saver, and not wearing a PFD is a factor in up to 80 per cent of drownings.”
Rondeau noted the province has partnered with the Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters since 2006 to provide a range of water safety programs including:
• a personal flotation device loaner program, which provides the free loan of PFDs that can be used for swimming lessons, boat trips and other community-led events in more than 70 northern and remote communities in Manitoba;
• Manitoba Water Safety Grants, which provide a one-time grant up to $2,500 for community-led projects, such as training lifeguards and swim instructors, improving waterfront signage, increasing supervision of young people near water or building barriers to protect the public from hazardous waterfronts; and
• a public awareness campaign that emphasizes the importance of sober boating and keeping children within arm’s reach at all times when swimming.
The Lifesaving Society of Canada is a national, volunteer organization and charity comprising of 10 provincial and territorial branches. It is a leader and partner in the delivery of water safety education throughout Canada, and has taught water safety and water rescue since 1896.