Children need constant supervision near water, warns Lifesaving Society

A poll commissioned by the Quebec Lifesaving Society found that the majority of guardians who responded aren't keeping a constant watch on kids near when they are water.

Poll released ahead of National Drowning Prevention Week, starting July 21

The Quebec branch of the Lifesaving Society is advising parents to keep a close eye on children near any body of water. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC )

About a third of Quebecers are keeping a constant eye on kids who are swimming or spending time near water, according to a poll on behalf of the Quebec Lifesaving Society.

The Allstate Canada poll showed 21 per cent of respondents said they kept an eye on swimming kids while splitting their attention with something else, and 24 per cent shared the task with other adults.

More than 1,000 Quebecers were polled between May 24 and 28 and only 32 per cent of people with children under 12 years old were supervising them at all times when they may be swimming.

The poll also found that 55 per cent of Quebecers surveyed said they plan to spend their vacation time in proximity to some kind of water, be it a lake, river or pool.

This comes after several recent drowning cases in the province, including that of a four-year-old boy in a Laval pool and that of a 17-year-old who was pulled out of the St. Lawrence River on Monday.

Thirty-five people have drowned so far this year in Quebec. The province averages about 80 drowning cases annually, said Raynald Hawkins, executive director of the Lifesaving Society's Quebec branch.

Raynald Hawkins, executive director of the Lifesaving Society's Quebec branch, says an adult always needs to be supervising children who are in and around bodies of water or pools. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

Hawkins told Radio-Canada that "there are maybe seven out of 10 parents who say: 'My kid knows how to swim, so I don't really need to watch closely.'"

He said there should always be an adult charged with keeping an eye on kids in the water.

"We're used to the idea of a designated driver for a night of drinking. It's the same thing," he said.

Hawkins said that it only takes 15 to 20 seconds for a child to drown and that many Quebecers overestimate their children's swimming skills.

Statistics Canada data was used to weight the results in an effort to represent the larger population. A probability sample of this size carries a margin of error of ± 3.08 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

With files from Radio-Canada's Fanny Samson


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