100 Ontarians die each year due to drowning

SANDBANKS, PICTON, Ont., July 23, 2013 – During this National Drowning Prevention Week, the Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit along with the Community against Preventable Injuries (Preventable) and Parachute, are asking Ontarians to have a word with themselves before getting in the water. Towels, emblazoned with the words “Before you think only other swimmers drown, have a word with yourself”, will be laid on the Outlet beach of Sandbanks Provincial Park and at North Beach Provincial Park on July 26-27, as a reminder that we are all at risk of drowning.

The health unit addresses water safety across the lifespan in a comprehensive manner. “For many people, summer includes activities such as swimming and boating but not everyone is aware of how to stay safe around water. Our role is to raise awareness, provide education, create supportive environments and influence the development and implementation of healthy policies for water safety,” says Cindy Kirkpatrick, public health nurse with the Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit.

Approximately 100 Ontarians drown each year. Alcohol use, not wearing lifejackets or PFDs while boating and lack of child supervision are major risk factors.

Data indicates that drowning is the second leading cause of injury death for children. “Children under five are at special risk for drowning as they are attracted to water but can’t understand the risks, “ said Parachute’s Pamela Fuselli. “As well, their lungs are smaller than adults’ and quickly fill with water. Older children may overestimate their skills in the water, respond to a dare or underestimate the strength of a current. Even good swimmers can get into trouble. Active supervision of young children near water, four-sided pool fencing, the use of lifejackets, adult training in first aid and CPR and swimming lessons for kids are all valuable steps to prevent drowning.”

“The key to reducing serious injuries is behaviours and attitudes,” says Dr. Ian Pike, spokesperson for Preventable. “We all lead busy and hectic lives – taking that one moment to have a word with yourself could prevent injury and save your life or your child’s life.”


  • Of the 23 boaters who drowned in Ontario waters during the summer of 2010, 22 were not wearing lifejackets or PFDs, according to a report from Ontario’s Chief Coroner.
  • Alcohol was linked to 67% of deaths due to drowning that summer of those aged 15-64.
  • Of the 89 who drowned that summer, 85% were male.
  • Children under five years are most likely to drown in private pools, whereas older children and teenagers are most at risk in lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and creeks, according to the Lifesaving Society.
  • For each child who dies from drowning, there are some two to three near-drowning cases that require hospitalization and another seven that require a visit to an emergency room.
  • Evidence suggests that four-sided pool fencing can reduce a child’s risk of drowning by up to 83%, as compared to three-sided pool fencing.

The human and financial toll of drowning is shocking – in Ontario alone, the total direct and indirect costs are estimated to be over $30 million annually.

To learn more about water safety and preventable injuries, visit www.parachutecanada.org and www.preventable.ca.


The Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit’s job is to protect and promote the health of the people of our community and to prevent adverse health effects.


Parachute is a national, charitable organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. Parachute officially came into being in July 2012 and unites the former organizations of Safe Communities Canada, Safe Kids Canada, SMARTRISK and ThinkFirst Canada into one leader in injury prevention. Parachute’s vision is an injury-free Canada where Canadians live long lives to the fullest. For more information, visit www.parachutecanada.org.


Preventable (also known as The Community Against Preventable Injuries) is the first-ever organization to undertake a nationwide social marketing strategy focusing on preventable injuries. Established to raise awareness, transform societal attitudes, and ultimately change behaviours, Preventable uses provocative communication to reach people at the moment of risk.

“Have a Word with Yourself” is Preventable’s current campaign that speaks to the little voice inside your head that knows that sometimes bad things can happen – but that we each have the power to prevent them. Preventable is a registered non-profit organization representing a true partnership of more than 80 members, including businesses, injury prevention organizations and government. Our goal is simple: to change attitudes in order to significantly reduce the number and severity of preventable injuries in Canada.

Media Contacts

Cindy Kirkpatrick
Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit
Tel : 613-966-5513 ext. 336
Email : ckirkpatrick@hpechu.on.ca

Kathy Blair
Tel: 647-776-5125
Email : kblair@parachutecanada.org

Almira Bardai
Jive Communications
Tel: 604-561-7516
Email: almira@jivecommunications.ca