100 Canadians Die Each Year – Mostly Kids


– Nearly 100 Canadians drown every year, most of them young children, after they unexpectedly fall into the water, states a new report released today by the Canadian Red Cross compiling 20 years of data.

The report, which examines water-related fatalities between 1991 – 2010 shows that children aged 1-4 are most at risk, accounting for more than 20 per cent of all fatalities due to unexpected falls around water. Of those who died from unexpected falls in the water, 28 per cent occured at shoreline, 14 per cent occured at poolside, and 9 per cent happened by a wharf.

“With the long weekend approaching, the Red Cross is urging Canadians to take precautions, when engaging in any activities on or around the water,” says Rick Caissie, director general, prevention and safety with the Canadian Red Cross. “A drowning can happen very quickly and it is critical that children have lifejackets on whenever they are near the water.”
On average, 525 people drown every year.

The majority of these incidents occurred between May 1- August 31 while Canadians engaged in recreational activities on inland bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
The report, ‘Water-Related Fatalities: Facts at a Glance’, is the first 20-year review of drowning research by the Red Cross. Highlights of report focusing on the risk of unexpected falls into water include:

  • • Over a 20 year period, there were more than 1,950 fatalities related to unexpected falls.
  • • On average, there are 97 deaths per year due to unexpected falls, including individuals engaging in recreational activities at cottages, pools and wharfs who never intended to enter the water.
  • • Children aged one to four accounted for 21 per cent of fatalities.
  • • For individuals over 15, alcohol is a contributing factor in at 39 per cent of fatalities.
  • • While fatalities occured across all provinces, the Territories had a rate several times the national average.
  • “The long weekend is a wonderful time to enjoy the water,” adds Caissie. “But whether you are at your cottage, the beach or a pool we urge you to keep yourself and your family safe both on and around the water.”
  • The Red Cross Swim program is based on research as to why and how Canadians drown and is continuously updated to reflect the latest findings. This summer, Red Cross Swim will be updated to include optional skill items where swimmers are wearing clothing in the water, which will help them recognize the additional challenges involved with unexpected falls into water, and prepare them to respond and react appropriately.
  • The Red Cross has been helping to keep Canadians safe in, on and around water since 1946. To read the full report or for more information about Canadian Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, and safety tips, visit www.redcross.ca/swim.
  • Drownings in Canada
    National stats:

    • Annually on average, 525 water-related fatalities
    • The average rate of water-related fatalities (per 100,000 people) across the country is 1.7.
    • Water-related fatalities occurred across all provinces. The territories however, were at a particularly high risk with a rate of drowning several times the national average.
    • Almost 60% of fatalities occur in summer months
    • 60% of incidents occurred while Canadians engaged in recreational activities
    • Children aged 1-4 and men 15-34 most at risk
    • Alcohol is attributed to at least 59% of water-related fatalities of individuals over 15 years of age
  • Boating:
    • On average 166 deaths a year from boating-related incidents
    • Men 15-44 resulted in 56% of fatalities
    • For individuals age 15 and over, alcohol contributed to at least 30% of deaths
    • In total, there were 3,324 boating-related fatalities from 1991-2010. The average rate of drowning (per 100,000) was 0.6. The territories show an increased risk with a rate of 6.7 per 100,000.
    • Of the 1,335 boating-related fatalities from 2001-2010, lifejackets were not properly worn in over 71% of cases. In only 13.5% of cases was it verifiable that a lifejacket was properly worn at the time of a drowning incident. In 24% of cases a lifejacket was present but not worn.
  • Backyard Pools:
    • On average, over 22 deaths a year resulting from backyard pools
    • Children 1-4 accounted for 42% of fatalities
    • 80% of fatalities among children occurred when there was no adult supervision.
    • Only 16% of fences met legal standards
    • From 1991-2010 there were 446 deaths in backyard pools. The average rate of drowning in backyard pools is 0.07 Quebec shows the highest rate at 0.12 per 100,000 people.
    • Of the 446 deaths from 1991-2010 almost 70% were males.
    • The highest rate is for the age group 1-4.
    • In only 25 (6%) of the 442 backyard pool-related deaths, was there a verified self-closing and self-latching gate in place. The overwhelming majority of these incidents, 357 (81%), occurred in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Unexpected falls into water:
    • On average, 97 deaths a year
    • Children aged 1-4 accounted for 21% of fatalities
    • For individuals over 15, alcohol contributed to at least 39% of deaths