With summer activities in full swing, being mindful of water safety is at the utmost importance.
 
According to statistics, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury or death among Canadian children under the age of nine. This does not only include large bodies of water, but also bathtubs and backyard pools.
 
"The most important message for parents is that they need to actively supervise their children in and around water," said Monica Sicotte, recreation operation supervisor for Strathcona County. "Quite often we get distracted by our phones, by talking with somebody else or barbecuing in our backyards and we're not actively watching the kids that are in the water."
 
Flotation devices are encouraged, but they do not replace active supervision by an adult. Sicotte stressed that in order to actively supervise while swimming, parents should be within five meters of any child under the age of five.
 
"Drowning can happen in as little as ten seconds and unlike the movies, where you see thrashing around, you'll hear somebody calling for help, drowning is actually a silent activity," added Sicotte. "People who are drowning can't get their airway above the surface of the water, so they actually can't call for help."
 
Across Canada, there are an average of 500 deaths due to drowning a year. Most happen in backyard pools or at the beach and almost always in the summer. The highest age risk categories are young children under the age of five and young men between the ages of 20 and 25.
 
She recommends always choosing one adult from a group to be the designated supervisor and encourages anyone not fully confident in their swimming abilities to try swimming lessons.
 
With the recent tragic drowning incident, Elk Island National Park also wants to encourage using extra precautionary measures when pursuing any water activities.
 
"If you're ever at Astotin Lake, you'll always see people on paddle boards, you'll see canoers and if you're learning, sometimes that means a dip in the lake," said Janelle Lane, communications officer with Elk Island. "So as long as you're wearing the proper life preservers when you're out doing those activities, we really want people to be self-reliant, set up a buddy system and enjoy the lake in a safe manner."
 
More information on water safety can be found on Elk Island's website.
 

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