Eastern Manitoba has the third-highest rate of drownings in the province. That fact is part of new data issued by the Lifesaving Society, Manitoba Branch. It reports there were 18 drownings from 2009-2015 in the Eastern Region which goes from just east of Steinbach to the Ontario border and from the U.S. border to just north of the Whiteshell.
The City of Steinbach is tied with Selkirk for fifth on the list with eight drownings in that period.
Christopher Love of the Lifesaving Society outlines the most common activities linked to drownings.
"Number one is land, ice or air transportation and that would be things like people driving and going off the road into a water-filled ditch or people going out on snowmobiles, going through the ice or into open water. Number two is boating. We see plenty of boating deaths and unfortunately, we are higher than the national average. And our third-highest category for type of activity is non-aquatic. People end up drowning when they are not even intending on going into the water."
Love notes one-quarter of all drowning fatalities in the province are in indigenous communities which is an area they are already working in and will continue to work on.
"The number two area is private residences, things like bathtubs, backyard swimming pools or associated bodies of water near homes."
Love says alcohol is also a significant risk factor. He also notes over 70% of drownings occurring in rural areas, when our province’s population density is almost the opposite, with nearly 70% living in urban areas.
Love says they have put out this data as part of their ongoing education to get all of us to be constantly aware of the need to take precautions to avoid drownings.
"A lot of people just think, it won't happen to me, it can't happen to me. Unfortunately, we know, based upon data like this, that it can and everybody should be thinking about what could go wrong. I'm not saying don't have fun when you are going out there, but take a few steps in advance to plan ahead so that if something bad does happen, you can react. And that would be things like don't go alone, not letting children be alone in, on or around the water and staying sober, not being intoxicated by drugs or alcohol anytime you are in, on or around the water because that is a significant risk factor."