Tips on how to avoid a disaster this summer

Des conseils pour éviter une catastrophe cet été

The greatest caution should be taken 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 taking shape in some american 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 Société de sauvetage, 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.

However, 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.

No thank you

“The fact that I bring my computer on the edge of the pool thinking that I can monitor [the children] and then continue to answer my e-mails, it is no 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.

The minister of municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, was in his company, in Quebec city, Sunday, for the launch of the brigade “splash”, which makes the 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 dismantle that accidents only happen to others.

The little girl was found in a island inflatable inadvertently. Fortunately, Ms. Laforest was not far away and had training in first aid.

“She was next to me, she had her floatation jacket. […] The time that I dive in and I go look for it […] she was lifeless and then it took me to do the manoeuvres”, said the minister.

New procedures

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 water flow, creating a new vortex,” it warns.

Mr. Hawkins insists that it is necessary to give priority to the places of bathing boxes in pointing out that the thousands of rescuers who will ensure the safety of the users have been trained in new procedures to prevent the COVID-19.

Drowning in Quebec

  • Already 31 deaths related to water this year in Quebec*

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)

*Data from the lifesaving Society. The number of deaths in 2020 includes the six snowmobilers who died in the lac-Saint-Jean in January.

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