May long weekend marks start to trauma season

The Victoria Day long weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. It also marks the start of the trauma season for Norfolk General Hospital (NGH). With the warmer weather comes an increase in accidents and injuries.

With that in mind, we’ve prepared some helpful hints and tips that will help you get the most out of summer, especially around swimming pools and lakes.

Water Safety

There’s nothing like jumping into a swimming pool or taking a plunge at the lake on a hot summer day.

But wherever there’s water, there’s also danger, and it’s critical that everyone – regardless of age – exercises caution.

According to Health Canada sentinel surveillance data, 232 people died due to an accidental drowning in 2019. Of the 232 deaths, 32 people (14%) died from drowning or falling in swimming pools and 19% were children between the ages of 1 and 9 years. Drowning remains among the leading causes of death for young children and infants.

Most drowning incidents, roughly 65 per cent, take place during the summer, with 55 per cent of all incidents occurring in swimming pools. The federal data also shows that when it comes to swimming pool drownings, 53 per cent of those involve young children aged four and under.

Canadian hospitals reported 918 drowning-related hospitalizations between 2011 and 2021, with more than half of these cases being someone under the age of 19.

Drownings can take place in swimming pools, natural bodies of water and even in your own bathtub.

Many of these tragedies can be avoided by taking a few critical – but simple – steps that will keep you and your loved ones safe whenever water is involved.

The Canadian Red Cross stresses that the best way to ensure water safety is – first and foremost – by making sure you know how to swim and getting your child into swimming lessons at a young age.

In addition to being a strong swimmer, however, it’s also incredibly important to know what to do in the event of a water-related emergency. Being prepared and taking preventative steps in advance of your pool or beach day can be the difference between life and death.

With that, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to water safety this summer (Source: Health CanadaCanadian Red Cross):

  • The majority of child drownings occur when there is no adult supervision. Whenever kids are near water, there needs to be an adult present. Make sure novice swimmers are wearing a life jacket with a proper fit.
  • Make sure your swimming pool is secured with proper fencing on all sides and a latching, self-closing gate. Backyard pools are particularly dangerous for young children who may accidentally fall in.
  • Always enter a body of water, including a pool, feet first. The only time it is ever safe to dive into the water is if you have proper training combined with at least 10 to 12 feet of water depth with clear visibility, like in the designated area of an aquatics centre.
  • When swimming in a natural body of water, never underestimate the power of moving water and always beware of rip currents. A rip current can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea. If you get caught in a rip, remain calm, conserve your energy and swim sideways (parallel to the shore) to get out of it rather than trying to swim directly back to shore.
  • Know how to identify a rip current before getting into the water. Scan the surf for any gaps in a row of waves and look to see if there’s any seaweed or other debris floating out to sea rather than toward the shore.
  • As with most activities, do not consume drugs or alcohol while swimming.