The season for pool parties, beach excursions and trips to the cottage has begun. Sadly, some of these events turn tragic each year and drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years old in Canada. 

Here are some tips from the Lifesaving Society of Canada on how to keep your kids — and yourself — safe:  

When kids are in the water, they should always be within arm's reach of an adult. It only takes seconds for a child to drown. 

At pool parties, the adults often chat among themselves while the kids are swimming. It's easy to become distracted while assuming someone else is keeping an eye on the children.  Designate one adult to be watching the kids at all times instead of participating in the conversation. The Lifesaving Society suggests taking 15-to 20-minute shifts and then actively handing over kid-watching duties to the next adult. Get a whistle to pass between each other so it's always clear who's responsible for lifeguarding at any given moment. 

Whenever possible, choose a pool or beach where there's a lifeguard present. According to the Lifesaving Society, fewer than one per cent of drownings happen in lifeguard-supervised settings.  But remember that the presence of a lifeguard doesn't replace the adult's duty to supervise the children in their care. 

Everyone needs to know how to swim. If you or your children don't know how to swim, check with your provincial Lifesaving Society to find out where you can take the Swim to Survive program. It's not a substitute for swimming lessons but it will teach the minimum skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into water, including treading water for one minute and swimming 50 metres. 

Enroll your child in swimming lessons.  If you don't know how to swim yourself, there are swimming lessons for adults too. 

Always swim with a buddy. 

Always wear a life-jacket when in a boat, canoe or kayak. Even the most experienced swimmers can drown if they unexpectedly end up in the water.  Most drownings happen within 15 metres of shore. Alcohol is a factor in most boating accidents. 

Accidents happen while people are taking selfies and are too close to the edge of a waterfall or a river.  Be aware of where you are and stay a safe distance back. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2023.

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