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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Summer Water Safety
Last year in Nova Scotia 17 people died from preventable water-related deaths and according to the Lifesaving Society, the vast majority of these drowning victims were men. In fact, overall, men accounted for 83 per cent of Canada’s water-related deaths during 2006-2010:

Year after year, 8 out of 10 drowning victims are male. The skew to male victims is evident across all age groups, but most pronounced among 18-34-year-olds where 9 of every 10 victims are male.

Why did they drown?

  • Drowning as a result of boating: 79 per cent of victims were not wearing a PFD/lifejacket 
  • Drowning as a result of swimming: 34 of victims were unable to swim; while 32 per cent of victims died as a result of mixing alcohol consumption and swimming

In young male victims (ages 18-34), preventable drowning deaths were as result of not wearing a PFD (83 per cent of relevant situations) and alcohol consumption. 

These staggering statistics underlie the importance of PFD use in recreational and occupational use when on the water. And just like drinking and driving, drinking alcohol while boating or participating in other water activities has deadly results.

Summer is short in Nova Scotia – Remember to enjoy it safely.

Tips to Reduce the Risk of Drowning

  • Learn to swim. Formal swimming lessons can reduce therisk of drowning. Closely watch swimmers in or around the water. Designate a responsible adult who can swim and knows CPR to watch swimmers in or around water – even when lifeguards are present. 
  • Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). In the time it might take for lifeguards or paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone's life.
  • Fence it off. Barriers to pool access should be used to help prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers' awareness when they aren't supposed to be swimming. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool, be at least 4 feet high, and have self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward, with latches that are out of the reach of children.
  • Use the Buddy System. Regardless of your age, always swim with a buddy.
  • Look for lifeguards. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards whenever possible.
  • Heed warning flags. Know the meaning of and obey the warnings they represent, which may vary from beach to beach. Not sure what they mean? Ask!
  • Know the terrain. Be aware of and avoid drop-offs and hidden obstacles in natural water sites. Always enter water feet first.
  • Avoid rip currents. Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents, like water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore. 
  • Use approved life jackets. Don't use air-filled or foam toys, like "water wings", "noodles", or inner-tubes, in place of life jackets. These toys are not designed to keep swimmers safe.
  • Avoid alcohol. Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Don't drink alcohol while supervising children.
  • Don't hyperventilate. Swimmers should never hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called "shallow water blackout") and drown.

(From the Center for Disease Control).



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