Opinion: Caution on the water

The drowning death of a woman in Harrison Lake last Friday and the death of a man Tuesday offer a reminder of the need for caution on water.

The drowning death of a young woman in Harrison Lake last Friday and the death of a young man in the same lake on Tuesday offer a sad reminder of the need for caution on the water.

The incidents follow the deaths of two men earlier in the year – a tragedy that has prompted the family to release a poignant video calling for more signage and better awareness of the dangers of Harrison Lake.

Details of the two most recent incidents are still scarce. However, they  reflect a familiar theme: an underestimation of the perils of such a large body of water. The currents are strong, the water is cold and the wind and waves can turn a simple swim into nightmare.

But there’s more, as B.C.’s grim record shows.

Hundreds of people drown in Canada each year, and here in B.C. our lakes and rivers have claimed far too many of those lives.

Hot and dry 2013 was a particularly bad year in this province, with more than 40 drowning deaths recorded by mid-July. But with temperatures climbing again in what has already been a summer for the record books, there is a very real possibility that we’ll see a return to those numbers.

The British Columbia Drowning Report 2015 edition – a compilation of stats from 2008 to 2012 – lays out the five Ws of drowning deaths in the province over that five-year period. Its findings are unsurprising.

It tells us July and August are the most dangerous months and that the Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley sees the most drowning deaths of any region in the province. The report also notes that eight out of 10 drowning victims are male; most people who drown in B.C. die in a river, stream or lake; and that age 20-24 is the riskiest time of life.

But it’s the ‘Whys’ that should really make us sit up and take notice.

Between the ages of 20 and 34, the most likely cause of drowning is alcohol consumption (48 per cent) followed by not wearing a life jacket when relevant (40 per cent). What these elements all have in common, of course, is that they are choices those swimmers and boaters made.

When it comes to safety on the water, of course, enforcement is crucial. But it’s also important to acknowledge the role we play in our own safety, and the safety of those who are enjoying the water with us.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

An injection kit is seen inside a Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Hope’s high rate of drug overdose noted in BC Coroners Service report

Up-to-date numbers not available yet for 2021, but Fraser Health deaths on the rise

Screenshot from security footage a young, thin cougar prowling on Oliver Crescent in Sardis on May 7, 2021. (Dustin Meyer photo)
VIDEO: Cougar sighting in residential Chilliwack neighbourhood prompts warning

Springtime cougar sightings likely due to cats following deer down to valley floor, says CO

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Westbound traffic is slow moving on Highway 1 following a crash that has police blocking one lane. Google Maps screenshot taken at 9:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Crash on North Parallel Road causes road closure, single westbound Highway 1 lane blocked

Abbotsford Police investigating, roads closed between McDermott and No. 3 Road

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Most Read