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Barbara McLintock

Coroner, Strategic Programs
BC Coroners Service
250 356-9253


Water safety tips
  • In any small craft wear a properly-fitted personal floatation device (PFD) at all times when on the water. Having one in the boat is not sufficient as, in as many as 70% of boating incidents, the person becomes separated from the boat.
  • Children, non-swimmers and weak swimmers should also wear a PFD when wading or playing in the water at a river or lakeside.
  • Do not mix alcohol with boating, swimming or other recreational water activities. A study published in the journal, Injury Prevention, suggests that someone with a blood-alcohol level of 0.10 has about 10 times the risk of drowning during boating, and that even a small amount of alcohol can increase the risk as a result of impaired co-ordination and judgment. Impairment is illegal for someone driving a boat, but it is also risk for passengers who are more likely to fall into the water. Impairment by alcohol or drugs is also often a contributing factor in cases in which someone has accidentally fallen into water from shore.
  • Be aware of the water conditions where you are planning your activities. Check the weather forecast before heading out and also do a visual inspection of the area. Do not head down a river without being aware of the water conditions further downstream. If there are warning signs posted, obey them.
  • If you are hosting visitors from another province or country, ensure that they are informed about the conditions that prevail in the lake or river you are visiting. Warn them about steep drop-offs, rapids, currents, cold water and any other hazards.
  • Always supervise children anywhere near water. Pre-school-aged children can drown in only a few centimetres of water and the drowning is often silent. Young children should be within arm’s length of a responsible adult. Swim lessons do not replace the need to supervise children around the water.
  • Never dive into unknown waters. Unexpectedly shallow water or hidden obstacles underwater can easily prove fatal. Diving from cliffs or from other great heights is exceptionally risky.
  • Never swim alone. Always have a buddy and keep an eye out for each other.

Learn More:

For further information about water safety tips, visit the following sites:

Canadian Red Cross:

The Lifesaving Society: