Wa­ter safety starts young

City kicks off drown­ing pre­ven­tion week with res­cue demon­stra­tion

The Barrie Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - BOB BRU­TON

Fiona Inkster might owe her life to wear­ing a life-jacket.

As Na­tional Dr own­ing Pre­ven­tion Week kicked off Mon­day in Bar­rie, Inkster told of a re­cent ca­noe­ing mishap that would have been worse had she not been wear­ing one.

On July 2 of the Canada Day week­end, she and her hus­band, John, were ca­noe­ing with an­other cou­ple, in a kayak, on the Seguin River, about five kilo­me­tres from Is­abella Lake near Parry Sound.

They came around a bend in the river and were sur­prised by a 20-foot wa­ter­fall; they were pitched from their ca­noe and went into the river.

She swam to a nearby tree, while John went to the op­po­site shore.

Their kayak­ing friends, who did not go over the wa­ter­fall, came to help.

“If I had not had that life-jacket, I might not have made that trip across the river (to where her hus­band was),” she said.

Both of them were hurt, how­ever, but if would have been much worse had their life-jacket pad­ding not pro­tected them from the rocks in the river.

Inkster said she was bleed­ing, prob­a­bly in shock, too.

“It kept us warm when we were wait­ing to be res­cued,” she said of the life-jack­ets.

Inkster, a recre­ation client ser­vices supervisor at Al­lan­dale Recre­ation Cen­tre, said ca­noe­ing on calm wa­ters with the shores in sight is no guar­an­tee that dan­ger isn’t lurk­ing.

“You never know what is around the cor­ner,” she said.

Na­tional Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion Week is July 16-22, and there were beach res­cue demon­stra­tions and speeches Mon­day morn­ing at Cen­ten­nial Beach to mark it, along with some sober­ing sta­tis­tics.

An av­er­age of 500 Cana­di­ans drown ev­ery year, 160 in On­tario.

“Most of the drown­ings are pre­ventable,” said Bar­bara By­ers of the Life Sav­ing So­ci­ety of On­tario, who put em­pha­sis on pro­tect­ing chil­dren.

“It’s very im­por­tant for par­ents to be their own child’s life­guard,” she said. “Drown­ing can hap­pen in sec­onds and it is silent. Keep chil­dren within arm’s reach.”

By­ers also said par­ents should not be dis­tracted by their cell­phones while near wa­ter with their chil­dren.

Drown­ing is the lead­ing cause of un­in­ten­tional deaths among Cana­dian chil­dren less than nine years old.

“It starts at such a young age, teach­ing our chil­dren wa­ter safety,” said Bar­rie-Spring­wa­terOro-Medonte MP Alex Nut­tall.

Shan­non Scully-Pratt of the Cana­dian Red Cross said this is the sixth year of its part­ner­ship with the city for a free per­sonal flota­tion de­vice (PFD) loan ser­vice at Cen­ten­nial and John­son’s beaches, while life­guards are on duty, from June 30 to Aug. 20. More than 100 life-jack­ets were loaned last year.

“It is so im­por­tant to keep wa­ter safety top-of-mind this sum­mer,” Scully-Pratt said. “Not only chil­dren should have life-jack­ets in boats, but adults, too.”

Ap­prox­i­mately 30% of drown­ings each year (2016 Cana­dian Drown­ing Re­port) oc­cur dur­ing boat­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Life­sav­ing So­ci­ety des­ig­nates the third week in July as Na­tional Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion Week to fo­cus com­mu­nity and me­dia at­ten­tion on the drown­ing prob­lem and drown­ing pre­ven­tion.

BOB BRU­TON/BAR­RIE EX­AM­INER

As part of Na­tional Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion Week, run­ning un­til July 22, Bar­rie life­guards staged res­cue demon­stra­tions at Cen­ten­nial Beach, Mon­day morn­ing. One ex­er­cise in­volved an un­con­scious man be­ing pulled out of the wa­ter and car­ried to shore by life­guards.

BOB BRU­TON/BAR­RIE EX­AM­INER

Bar­rie life­guards staged res­cue demon­stra­tions at Cen­ten­nial Beach Mon­day morn­ing as part of Na­tional Drown­ing Pre­ven­tion Week, run­ning un­til July 22. One demon­stra­tion in­volved a miss­ing child lo­cated af­ter a brother and sis­ter went to a life­guard, fol­lowed by a search of the beach's shal­low wa­ters.

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