Drowning a winter risk too, says Livesaving Society report

Drowning is often thought of as a tragedy that happens most frequently in summer, but according to a new study by the Lifesaving Society, it’s a year-round threat to Manitobans.

The society’s annual Manitoba Drowning Report suggests the public perceptions of how, when and where drownings happen might need to be changed.

“We wanted to take a look and see where, specifically, we’re being exposed to drowning incidents in Manitoba as well as some of the activities that were contributing to it,” Lifesaving Society CEO Kevin Tordiffe told 680 CJOB Friday morning.

“A lot of people assume that drowning is a summertime or swimming-related event, and it isn’t.

“We see drownings every month of the year in Manitoba.”

Among the report’s findings is the fact that rural communities are disproportionately affected by drowning.

“We find that about 70 per cent of drownings in Manitoba are happening in rural areas instead of the urban environment,” said Tordiffe.

“It would suggest that a lot of drownings are related to people going out and adventuring in some fashion in aquatic environments, so it’s something to think about when you’re planning your outings year-round.”

Indigenous communities – part of those rural numbers – are even more over-represented, in past years contributing to between 40-50 per cent of overall drowning incidents in the province, he said.

Perhaps the most interesting finding is that the most dangerous activity for potential drowning is driving, with vehicles driving onto thin ice or going off the road into water.

“The thing I want people to understand the most is that drowning can occur at any time, in any place or any environment you can be in,” said Tordiffe. “Think about the drowning risk that you face every day.”

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