Heat waves, déconfinement, work from home, and vacation in Quebec… All the conditions are met for a black series of accidents on the water this summer, while the summer season is already proving to be the most deadly, especially for young children.
“After the containment that we have lived, everyone wants to go crazy. And with the nice temperature, people are more often found near the water, on the water and in the water, ” said Raynald Hawkins, director general of the lifesaving Society of Quebec.
In accordance with the statement of the organization, 56 deaths related to water have occurred since the beginning of the year, compared to 38 as of the date of the 26 July last year.
This heavy toll touches already the number of deaths total reported in 2019 and 2018, which was 58 and 57 respectively, according to non-official data from the lifesaving Society.
“These statistics make me more sad than anxious, because the majority of deaths, if not all, were preventable,” adds Mr Hawkins.
Sylvain Deschênes, director general of maritime Quebec, believes that the current year is ” special “.
Because of the COVID-19, which is forcing holidaymakers to stay in Quebec, several have made the purchase of a watercraft. Kayaks, boards and paddle watercraft are very popular, according to his observations.
“There are a lot of new boaters don’t always know the right behaviours and how to share the water bodies, hence the importance of our companions of awareness,” says Mr. Deschênes.
Sad record of children drowned
The children have been particularly affected since the beginning of the year. Nine young people aged 14 years and younger have already lost their lives in the water and the summer season is far from over.
This is the worst record since 2012, where nine children were drowned this year.
In 90% of cases, a child drowns because of the lack of supervision or because he has escaped the surveillance of his parents.
“There must always be a lifeguard designated, which monitors only the bathing, insists Mr. Hawkins. And we can’t be distracted by our phone, a novel, or even gardening, because drowning is a phenomenon of quiet that happens in a few seconds. “
The latter is concerned, because 43 % of Quebecers with a swimming pool, the intention is to supervise their children while doing telework, according to a survey from insurance company Allstate Canada.
The jacket that saves lives
In addition, Raynald Hawkins argues in favour of a regulation which will require people to wear a floatation jacket personal (PFDS) on board watercraft.
“When I hear the argument that the PFD is an individual responsibility, I understand… But for 80 drowning, you would save 20 people [with this settlement] “, he argues.
“People don’t wear them, because they imagine that if they fall in water, they are going to have the time to take their jacket,” says Michèle Mercier, director of the prevention and safety for the canadian Red Cross.
On Facebook, the daughter of Luke Genesse, who is drowned to death last Saturday during his fishing trip, reminds us of the importance of wearing a PFD.
“Put on your jacket, it may not be comfortable, but it can save lives,” she wrote.
Santiago Berruetta, trainer, and instructor, will always remember June 21. He gave a course of kayaking on the river St. Lawrence, at Montreal, when he heard screams in the distance.
“The four persons in the water, only one child was wearing a PFD. They had jumped off the boat to swim, but the current swept them. We used our kayaks as a raft to get them out of there, ” he says, proud that his intervention could save a family.
Moreover, the lover of water sports is concerned about the dangerous behaviour to which it is witness by some boaters.
“There is a culture of party around of speed boats and personal watercraft. People are there to consume alcohol and to burn the gas “, he says before adding that there is a lack of surveillance on the bodies of water in Québec, according to him.
► The total number of deaths*
2015 : 68
2016 : 83
2017 : 100
2018 : 57
2019 : 58
2020 : 56
* The number of drownings for the years of 2015 to 2017 comes from official data collected by the coroner’s Office after analyses. The data are not available for more recent years.
Thus, the number of drownings for the years 2018 to 2020 is based on a count not official made by the lifesaving Society of Quebec.
The number of deaths recorded by the coroner’s office is generally higher than that of the balance sheet of the Company, because the more comprehensive and accurate.
► Death among children 14 years and under
2020 : 9, so far (non-official data)
2019 : 7 (non-official data)
2018 : 8 (non-official data)
2017 : 8
2016 : 5
2015 : 5
2014 : 3
2013 : 5
2012 : 9
2011 : 3
2010 : 1
70 % of deaths occur in natural waters
- River : 33 %
- Lake : 29 %
- River : 8 %
- Swimming pools : 13 %
- Bath and whirlpool : 10 %
According to the data from 2009 to 2015 published by the lifesaving Society :
- 82 % of victims of drowning are men and 18 % of women
- 87 % of drownings in children are due to a lack of supervision or a supervision distracted.