Lifesaving Society urges caution after recent deaths on Saskatchewan lakes
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Lifesaving Society urges caution after recent deaths on Saskatchewan lakes

“They can hit their head on a boat or a rock. The lakes in these provinces are really, really cold. So if you’re not expecting to get in the water and you just fall over, you can have a cold-water reaction where you suck in air because you’re cold, but unfortunately you suck in water and you pass out,” she said. “There could also be weeds or maybe a tree under the water that you can’t see and you could get stuck in or under.”

People in the water also could be swept away by rip currents and currents, Rushton said.

Over the past decade, Saskatchewan has averaged about 24 drownings per year. A report by the Drowning Prevention Research Centre of Canada shows that 53 per cent of drownings occur in a lake or pond; 27 per cent in a river; and six per cent in a bathtub. The biggest risk factors include not wearing a life jacket, alcohol consumption, loneliness and poor swimming skills.

If someone is drowning and cannot surface or is having trouble staying afloat, Rushton said the best thing a bystander can do is call 911.

“Because we can get people who are more expert in water rescue to go out and help the swimmer or the boater. We really don’t want people, unless they’re trained in water rescue, to try to go out and rescue them,” she said. “If you have a boat, you can go out there with inflatables like a life jacket or a swimming noodle that’s on the beach. But just running out, if you’re not a trained lifeguard, is not a good idea because you could end up being a victim yourself.”

Parents are also advised to supervise children playing on inflatable toys, as the wind can push them away from the shore, which could cause them to float away.

While accidents do happen, many water-related fatalities are preventable. Rushton encouraged anyone who ventures onto the water not to become complacent when it comes to simple safety measures like life jackets.

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