Red Cross urges Canadians to wear lifejackets this May long weekend

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Every year, there are more than 160 water-related fatalities while boating. Nearly 90 per cent of boaters who drown are not wearing, or not properly wearing, a lifejacket. As today marks National Lifejacket Day, the Red Cross reminds Canadians about the importance of staying safe and wearing a lifejacket while engaging in water-related activities this upcoming long weekend.

“Almost 60 per cent of water-related fatalities occur during the summer months while Canadians are participating in recreational activities,” says Rebecca Benko, the operations manager for the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan. “While the long weekend is a time to open cottages, pools, and enjoy time with family and friends on the water, it’s important to take the proper precautions to avoid incidents.”

The Canadian Red Cross is extremely concerned about Canadians’ behaviour in, on, and around the water. Recent data collected by the Red Cross shows that despite significant water safety awareness initiatives, unsafe behaviours around the water continue to put Canadians at risk:

On average, there are 166 deaths a year from boating-related incidents,

Men aged 15-44 are at the highest risk, contributing to 56 per cent of boating-related fatalities.

Alcohol is present or suspected in more than 50 per cent of boating fatalities.

Less than 50 per cent of Canadians who own a boat always wear their lifejackets, although 82 per cent believe it is a legal requirement.

In Canada, there is an increasing number of drowning incidents where lifejackets were available on the boat, but not worn by the boaters. This rose from 19 per cent between 1991 and 1995 to 24 per cent between 2001 and 2010.

“Lifejackets, like seatbelts, need to be worn to save lives. Stay safe and enjoy the holiday weekend,” adds Benko.

The Canadian Red Cross has been helping to keep Canadians safe in, on and around water since 1946. For more information about Canadian Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or for safety tips, visit www.redcross.ca/swim.

Organizations: Red Cross

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada

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