4-year-old boy drowns in Saint-Lambert after falling into backyard pool

The child's death marks the 20th drowning in Quebec of the year. Longueuil police are reminding people to be vigilant with children around water.

The child's death marks the 20th drowning of the year

Emergency services were called to a home on Normandie Avenue, in the Saint-Lambert, Saturday afternoon. (Kolya H. Guilbault/Radio-Canada)

A toddler has died after falling into a backyard swimming pool, Longueuil police say. 

An ambulance was called to a home on Normandie Avenue in Saint-Lambert just after 4 p.m. on Saturday when the boy was found in the pool.

Paramedics tried to revive the boy, but he was declared dead in hospital less than an hour later. 

The death appears to be an accident said police spokesperson François Boucher, who reminded parents to be vigilant when their children are around water.

"You can never assume your children are safe or that they'll listen to instructions," he said.

The drowning is the 20th in Quebec so far this year.

This weekend a 5-year-old boy was also found unconscious in his family's pool in the Quebec City region, but he was luckily saved by an alert adult.

Average of 80 drowning deaths per year

Advocates recommend securing pools with fences or child-proof locks to ensure their children can't get inside without them noticing. 

Liane Fransblow, the trauma coordinator at the injury prevention program at the Montreal Children's Hospital, also said parents can sometimes underestimate how attentive they need be when supervising their kids. 

"I'm very sad. These deaths are entirely preventable," she said, adding she had found the news tough to hear.

"For four- and five-year-olds, the number one measure is supervision at all times near water, and that's active supervision. It's not sitting near the water on your phone or reading a book, or chatting with a friend. It's really all eyes on the water and the kids."

There is an average of 80 drowning deaths per year in Quebec, said Ronald Hawkins, the director of the Life Saving Society of Quebec. A quick response can help prevent those deaths.

"Drowning, particularly with toddlers, can be silent, only 15 to 20 seconds," he said. "You don't have any time to do other tasks other than supervise them."

Ronald Hawkins is the director of the Life Saving Society of Quebec. (CBC News)

Ripple effects resulting from the pandemic also have the two advocates concerned there could be more deaths by drowning this year than usual.

While more families opted to install a backyard pool in the pandemic, there have been fewer spaces available in swimming lessons as a result of public health measures over the past two years.

Pools have also had challenges in recruiting enough lifeguards for the season, Hawkins said.

While the number of drowning deaths in Quebec have greatly decreased since the 1990s, data compiled by the Life Saving Society of Quebec show an increase during the pandemic. 

There were 59 drowning deaths in Quebec in 2019 — with 95 in 2020, and 81 in 2021, according to their compiling of media reports. 

It's frustrating and heartbreaking," Fransblow said. "We've been doing work for years to try and prevent drowning."

To prevent drowning, the advocates also recommend:

  • Getting first-aid training so you know how to respond in the event of a drowning
  • Securing life-jackets while boarding any boat
  • Putting life-jackets on young children while they visit the beach or lake
  • Avoid swimming in your backyard while alone if you're at a higher risk of being seriously injured

with files from Kwabena Oduro, Elias Abboud and Radio-Canada