Drowning fatalities on the rise in Alberta, experts say

The number of drowning-related deaths in the province is on the rise, according to the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

19 people have died from apparent drownings so far this year

Getting kids to wear life jackets, learning CPR, and properly fencing in backyard pools are still some safety tips to prevent drowning. (CBC)

The number of drowning-related deaths in the province is on the rise, according to the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

There have been 19 reported drownings in Alberta this year, according to the organization. Of those, 15 of the deaths happened this summer alone.

There were 14 reported drownings last year. But coroner reports from across the province show deaths related to drowning to be closer to 40, according to figures obtained by the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

Officials from the organization say most drowning fatalities are preventable and people need to be prepared when enjoying time in the water.

"Often people have a life-jacket available on their boat. That's required to be on a boat but it's not required that they wear it," said Kelly Carter, executive director of Lifesaving Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories.

Police say a man who went missing Aug. 13 after a boat overturned on Sylvan Lake was not wearing his life-jacket at the time of the incident. His body was discovered by a search and rescue crew the morning of Aug. 19.

The three other occupants of the boat were able to put their life jackets on after the boat tipped over. 

According to the 2016 Canadian Drowning Report, 11 per cent of all water-related fatalities from 2009 to 2013 were a result of powerboating activities.

The report also says an average of 124 people drowned each year in Canada between 2004 and 2013 while engaged in a boating activity.

Be aware of surroundings

Carter says it's important to look out for people of all ages, but especially younger children, when around any body of water.

"When we look at why people drown and risk factors incorporated to that, often it has to do with supervision," he said.

Carter suggests parents actively monitor their kids' behaviour while swimming in a pool or in a lake.

"We see them distracted on their phones, reading a book or talking in a conversation to someone else. Drowning being silent, they're not able to hear their child in distress," he said.

"They have to be able to see it and they have to be close enough to be able to respond."

For more information on staying safe in the water, visit lifesaving.ca