Increased vigilance to avoid a disaster this summer

Une vigilance accrue pour éviter une catastrophe cet été

The greatest vigilance is called for, this summer, in swimming pools and bodies of water in Québec, if one wants to avoid a disaster scenario such as the one that is emerging in some u.s. States, where there has been an alarming rise of drowning.

The summer of 2020, against a background of pandemic, has its own unique challenges and it will need to be extra careful, acknowledges the director-general of the lifesaving Society of Quebec, Raynald Hawkins.

The director general of Société de sauvetage, Raynald Hawkins.

Less likely to travel, many Quebecers have bought a residential pool. It is to be hoped that each of these new owners will adopt the best practices.

The drowning child is a “phenomenon silent” which can occur in 15 to 20 seconds only. Thus, the telework is to be avoided absolutely at the edge of the pool, and there must always be an appointed supervisor.

“The fact that I bring my computer on the edge of the pool thinking that I can monitor [the children] and then continue to respond to my e-mail, it is not, thank you,” says Mr. Hawkins.

“The States of Florida and Texas have demonstrated to us that they had already a growth of 70 % of drownings in children and that telework could be a factor “, is cause for alarm Mr. Hawkins.

Brigade splash

The minister of municipal Affairs and Housing, Andrée Laforest, was in his company at Quebec, Sunday, for the launch of the brigade Splash that makes prevention.

Ms. Laforest said that she has rescued from drowning her own daughter, then five years old, several years ago, in an incident on a lake, to demonstrate that accidents only happen to others.

The little girl was found in bad shape under a island inflatable playing with another child, even if she had a floatation jacket. Fortunately, Ms. Laforest was not far away and had training in first aid.

During a press conference at the marina Saint-Roch, Sunday, rescuers were exposed to the new procedures being put in place to protect them, as well as the bathers, against the COVID-19. For example, they will be equipped with a mask, gloves and goggles.

“The time that I dive in and go get it – and then she was next to me, she was lifeless, and then it took me to do the manoeuvres “, said the minister.


In addition, Raynald Hawkins hopes that the restrictions in the public pools, water parks and beaches, where the capacity is reduced, will not lead the bathers to fall back to locations that are not designed and therefore more dangerous, as the natural rivers.

“You don’t know the background of this river-there. It takes a heavy downpour to change the flow of water, creating a new vortex, ” it warns.

Mr. Hawkins insists on the fact that it is necessary to give priority to the places of bathing boxes, noting that the thousands of rescuers who will ensure the safety of the patrons this summer have been trained in new procedures to prevent the COVID-19.

Drowning in Quebec

  • 25 deaths linked to the water this year compared to 22 at this time last year*

On average, the risk of drowning is:

  • 40% in the rivers
  • 30% in lakes
  • 15% in residential swimming pools
  • Less than 1% in places sidebars (public swimming pools, beaches, water parks)

*The lifesaving society of Quebec count officially, 31 deaths in 2020, as it includes in its count of the death of 6 snowmobilers last January in the lake Saint-Jean.

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