Herscu: drowning frequently happens ‘quickly and quietly’

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By Kirsten McMahon, Managing Editor

With the dog days of summer in full force, many families visit pools, beaches and lakes to beat the heat, but Easy Legal Finance Inc. president and CEO Larry Herscu says it’s vital to keep water safety top of mind.

“Most people — on paper — know how to stay safe in, on and around water, but once they are out and about, safety rules can slide or are forgotten.”

According to data from the Lifesaving Society, 43 per cent of drownings occur in lakes or ponds, while 22 per cent happen in rivers. Nearly two-thirds of drownings occur between May and September when swimming outdoors is viable.

Approximately 166 Ontarians die in preventable water-related incidents annually, the organization reports.

“Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, a designated adult should be supervising children in the water,” Herscu says. “It’s that person’s job to be within arm’s reach and remain attentive at all times — not looking at their phone or chatting with other people.

“Drowning doesn’t always look like drowning — it can happen very quickly and quietly,” he adds.

Indeed, the Lifesaving Society reports drowning can happen in as little as 10 seconds and victims rarely call, wave or signal for help because they can’t keep their heads above water.

Herscu says if children are playing in or around the water at a pool party or cottage, sober adults can take turns supervising young ones.

If you are a boat owner, look into obtaining insurance that covers boats and/or watercraft such as Jet Skis, he says. In addition to covering against theft or collision, it can protect you if you are in an accident and held legally liable for injury or death to other people, Herscu says.

The Lifesaving Society reports alcohol consumption is a factor in almost 40 per cent of boating-related fatalities and not wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) was a factor in 88 per cent of boating deaths.

“Provide life jackets or PFDs for your guests and make sure they put them on,” Herscu says. “As well, don’t drive your boat or other watercraft while impaired.

“If you know the risks and remember water safety, you can help to ensure that everyone has fun this summer and beyond,” he says.

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