Simple precautions can help prevent children from drowning

As residents prepare for the summer swim season, the City of Ottawa and its partners in the Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition, encourage all residents, especially parents and caregivers, to take precautions to prevent drowning.

As temperatures rise, many residents cool off by jumping in the water. Whether it is in the backyard pool, at the beach or cottage, or simply getting wet at the local wading pool, it is important to keep safety in mind.

Children are at risk of drowning during any season, but the risk increases in spring as ponds, lakes and rivers begin to thaw. Even though the outside air temperature is rising quickly, it gives a false sense of warmth. The water temperature of lakes and rivers is still dangerously cold. Curious toddlers are often drawn to fast-flowing water but do not understand the dangers.

Adult supervision is essential no matter how well your child swims. Among Ontario children age five years and under, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death. Two-thirds of these drownings happen to those who never intended to get wet in the first place. Unattended toddlers are especially at risk of drowning because they are mobile and very curious.

Plan to reduce the risks during the summer months ahead:

- Stay within arm’s reach of your child at all times in and around the water.
- Enrol yourself and your children in swimming lessons and learn CPR and First Aid.
- Always use a personal floatation device when you are in a boat or a watercraft.
- Be vigilant – drowning occurs most commonly in swimming pools, often during a lapse of adult supervision.
- Install four-sided fencing around all pools, measuring at least five feet or 1.5 metres high and including a self-latching and self-closing gate.

Now in its 12th year, the Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition is made up of representatives from Canadian Red Cross, Lifesaving Society, Ottawa Fire Services, Ottawa Paramedic Service, Ottawa Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, Ottawa Police Service and Ottawa Public Health. The coalition is committed to raising the awareness of water safety and drowning prevention for parents, caregivers, children and youth.

For more information on drowning prevention, call 3-1-1 or visit