June 2011

Alcohol, lack of PFDs linked to Ontario drownings

Alcohol was a contributing factor in two-thirds of Ontario’s drowning deaths last summer among those aged 15-64, concludes a new review from Ontario’s chief coroner. Of the 89 people who drowned in Ontario from May through September 2010, 85% were male. As well, the number of child victims under 5 almost tripled from the year before, to 13. The review finds that fully 96% - or all but one of 23 – of boaters who drowned were not wearing lifejackets or personal flotation devices. In addition, a third of drowning victims were born outside of Canada and 40% were non-swimmers. "The results of this review reiterate the need for greater awareness of the hazards of water and the measures that can prevent these preventable deaths,” said the Chief Coroner for Ontario, Dr. Andrew McCallum, in a news release announcing the review. “Learning to swim, avoiding alcohol while swimming and boating, wearing a life jacket and closely supervising children can save lives." The Coroner adds that Ontarians who wish to learn more about drowning prevention should contact the Lifesaving Society, the Red Cross or other similar organizations in their area for information and assistance.

The news release is available online.

Updated June 23, 2011