New Brunswick

Atlantic Provinces see 39 unintentional water-related deaths in 2018

According to the Canadian Red Cross, there were at least 39 unintentional water-related deaths, overall, across the Atlantic provinces in 2018.

16 of the deaths in Nova Scotia, 13 in Newfoundland and Labrador

Police in Halifax remove an inflatable toy from Chocolate Lake after a drowning this summer. (Gabrielle Fahmy/CBC)

According to the Canadian Red Cross, there were at least 39 unintentional water-related deaths across the Atlantic provinces in 2018.

That's on par with the average number of deaths in the region for the last five years, according to a news release issued by the society.

But there are a few anomalies —​ 2018 saw a significant decline in water-related deaths in New Brunswick.

A total of four unintentional water-related deaths occurred in that province in 2018, compared to the five-year provincial average of nine unintentional water-related deaths per year.

The deaths in New Brunswick included a man from Maine whose kayak overturned in the Bay of Fundy, another man whose canoe overturned on a lake near Musquash, and a man and his daughter who died after a raft overturned in rapids on the Miramichi River.

But in Prince Edward Island, the number of deaths was up from an average of two to six, mostly because of accidents involving commercial fishing vessels. 

Nova Scotia saw 16 unintentional water-related deaths in 2018, a small rise from the provincial average of 14. Some of the 2018 deaths in that province were fishing related, but others happened while people were swimming in lakes or beaches.

Newfoundland and Labrador's number of unintentional water-related fatalities stayed consistent with the five year average, with 13 unintentional water-related deaths, but one week in July was particularly deadly on the waters in that province. 

Red Cross tracks fatalities

The Canadian Red Cross tracks a range of sources including police, media and social media reports to collect figures on water-related fatalities.

The statistics gathered by the Canadian Red Cross exclude known or suspected suicides.

"We like to track and do research on drownings to see where, and when, and how they occurred in case that needs to be reflected in our training modules," said Dan Bedell, the Atlantic communications director of the Canadian Red Cross.

"Maybe there's some kind of trend that we can address in training who are instructors, who then go out to teach other people," Bedell said.  

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