Drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children younger than 10, but recent Canadian Red Cross research shows that the majority of Saskatchewan parents do not understand what is needed to safeguard children in, on and around the water. On average, 13 children drown in the Prairie provinces every year.
“Children can drown quickly and quietly, and often in situations where they were not expected to enter the water,” says Rick Caissie, national director for first aid, swimming and water safety at the Red Cross. “Only one-third of children and youth who drown in Canada were taking part in aquatic activities that parents typically see as risky, like swimming or wading. One-third of children drown in situations where they enter the water unexpectedly, like by falling from a dock or entering the water without their caregiver’s knowledge.”
Parents in Saskatchewan have a false sense of security when their children are near water. Nearly half (46 per cent) of parents believe they can effectively supervise a child in the water without constantly watching them. However, four out of five children under the age of six who drown in Canada were not expected to enter the water.
Red Cross public opinion research shows that Canadian parents significantly underestimate children’s risk of drowning in shallow water, with 98 per cent of respondents with children younger than four indicating that water depth influences their level of supervision. However, data shows that 40 per cent of children drown in water less than one metre deep, and 90 per cent of children who drown in shallow water are not with a supervising adult.
“Sixty per cent of child drownings occur between June and August. If past trends continue, 34 children could drown between today and Labour Day,” adds Caissie. “With summer around the corner, we urge parents to understand the risks to children not just when they are in the water, but also when they are on or near it.”
June 1 to 8 is Water Safety Week, and the Red Cross is calling on all parents and adults to properly supervise children by maintaining them within reach and within sight at all times. The Red Cross has been helping to keep Canadians safe in, on and around water since 1946. For more information about Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or for safety tips, visit www.redcross.ca/swim