Drowning prevention tips from the Montreal Children's Hospital

Everyone, no matter their age, should swim with a buddy.

Montreal Gazette 2 minute read July 14, 2021

As the temperature rises and with Quebec’s construction holiday less than a week away, the Montreal Children’s Hospital trauma centre has issued an alert about water safety as families prepare to enjoy a swim in pools, lakes or water parks.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the hospital notes that drowning prevention requires a multi-faceted approach that includes:

• Constant adult supervision: close, undistracted and attentive surveillance of children around any body of water. This means no phones, screens, books, and no chatting with neighbours or drinking alcohol. The supervising adult should be within arm’s reach of anyone with weak swimming skills.

• Encouraging swimming lessons.

• CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training is recommended.

• Regardless of age, no one should swim alone.

The Children’s also recommends that:

• No direct access exist between a swimming pool and a house or patio.

• Adequate fencing be installed around the pool (a four-sided, self-locking fence of at least 1.2 metres high), with a gate that is closed and locked when the pool is not in use.

• In the case where there is direct access to a lake, make sure doors remain locked at all times to prevent a child from wandering into the water.

• Ensure that children are properly supervised when going on a field trip to a pool, lake or water park.

• Teach children to swim with a buddy.

• Make sure to swim in an area that matches swimming ability.

Approximately 60 children under the age of 14 drown each year in Canada and another 140 are hospitalized after a near-drowning, the hospital said.

Last year, during the first week of July, the Montreal Children’s Hospital emergency department treated three children under the age of 5 who lost their lives drowning in backyard pools.

The provincial government this year amended the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act, requiring all owners of swimming pools in Quebec to install four-sided fencing with automatic locking gates and to ensure there is no direct access from the home to the pool.

While the hospital notes that Quebec has given owners of older pools a grace period until 2023 to conform to the new rules, it urges pool owners act sooner rather than later.


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