Officials urge caution around B.C. waters this long weekend
B.C. Coroners Service is currently investigating 8 recent drownings
The Canadian Press
Posted: Aug 2, 2012 6:37 PM PT
Last Updated: Aug 2, 2012 6:36 PM PT
The B.C. Coroners Service is urging people to be extra cautious around water-related activities as it investigates eight recent drownings.
The youngest victim to drown was a 12-year-old girl, whose body was recovered from Skaha Lake after a sandbar she was standing on gave way Sunday.
The coroners service said high runoff from the winter's snowpack and heavy rains since then have left many rivers, streams and lakes running much faster and with higher-than-usual water levels.
Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe says that means activities such as rafting, canoeing and tubing are now much riskier.
She says visitors to B.C. may not realize that local waters are likely to be more hazardous compared to elsewhere in Canada or even the world and that the water is often colder and lakes have steep drop-offs.
Chris Duffy, executive director for Emergency Management BC, says water levels and flow rates in the Interior have been the highest he's ever seen them.
Accidental drownings in B.C. from 2006-2010
A total of 404 accidental drownings occurred in B.C. over the five year period for an average of about 80 drowning deaths per year.
- Five out of six of those who drowned were male.
- Alcohol and/or drugs were contributing factors in more than two fifths of the deaths (42.3 per cent).
- About one in seven of those who drowned were visitors to B.C.
- Almost one-third of all deaths (30.9 per cent) occurred during the two months of July and August. Almost half of the visitors who drowned (49.2 per cent) died during that two-month period.
- Swimming, motorboating, and canoeing or kayaking were the three most common recreational activities that those who drowned were engaged in.
- The highest proportion of accidental drownings occurred in the southern Interior, encompassing the Kamloops area, the Okanagan and the Kootenays.
- More than half of those who died were between the ages of 20 and 49.
Source: B.C. Coroners Service
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