This is Drowning Prevention Week in Canada. Residents and visitors are urged to practice water safety while boating, fishing and swimming in the Northwest Territories (NWT).
Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister David Ramsay, who is also Minister of Transportation, says outdoor swimming areas in communities and parks are a great place to have fun, but he encourages people to stay safe by using common sense and being water smart. “Keeping young swimmers safe is a shared responsibility,” he adds. “Swimmers should always swim with a buddy, young children and non-swimmers should have a personal flotation device on and parents or guardians should ensure their children are within arm’s reach at all times.”
Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Robert C. McLeod says that a large proportion of drownings are of boaters who don’t wear lifejackets. “So many of our drownings are of people whose lifejacket is lying on the bottom of the boat out of reach when the person falls out of the boat,” he points out. “A properly fitting personal flotation device or lifejacket should be on every person in the boat and it’s up to the boat operator and other adults in the boat to set that example for everyone.”
Minister of Health and Social Services Tom Beaulieu says drowning is completely preventable and alcohol plays a large role in the number of drownings in the territory. “Alcohol is involved in one-third of all drownings, and more than two-thirds of drowning victims are adult males,” he says. “I encourage everyone – don’t put your life in the hands of a boater who has been drinking. We want everyone to get to their destination safely.”
All those who use NWT waterways should remember:
- The best way to avoid the consequences of someone else’s risky behaviour is to avoid boating with a drinking, speeding or reckless boat operator.
- Most drownings occur in the first few minutes after submersion because of the unexpected shock of cold water. A personal flotation device or lifejacket can keep you afloat and provide warmth in those critical early minutes.
- We all need to watch out for others. Remember, a drowning victim will likely not be waving or shouting. They may be unable to speak at all. If you’re unsure whether the person needs help, ACT, and get the help of others to assist the victim. Don’t put yourself in danger.
- Everyone should know how to summon emergency assistance.
The Department of Transportation website has links to valuable information on drowning prevention on its home page at www.dot.gov.nt.ca.
The Drowning Prevention Action Plan is an initiative of the Healthy Choices Framework, a Government of Northwest Territories program to promote health and safety through appropriate choices. Healthy Choices supports the goal of the 17th Assembly for safe communities and the priority of investing in prevention, education, and awareness.
For more information:
Manager of Public Affairs and Communications
Department of Transportation
Tel: (867) 873-7712
Cell: (867) 445-3494