For many Nova Scotians, summer means getting out on the water swimming or boating. This can be a great way to spend time with family and friends while cooling off.
However, every year summer water activities result in tragic deaths. Since August 1, the Nova Scotia RCMP has responded to, or assisted with, seven deaths on or around the water. Given these tragic circumstances, the Nova Scotia RCMP wants to share some tips on how citizens can enjoy water activities safely.
‘Nova Scotia is a beautiful place to enjoy water activities, especially in light of the recent hot and humid weather we have experienced, but that enjoyment needs to be balanced with safety,’ says, Cpl. Andrew Joyce. ‘We’ve seen an unprecedented number of drownings this summer in Nova Scotia and as first responders, we want citizens to practice water safety and encourage others to do the same.’
Cpl. Joyce adds, ‘As first responders, our members are impacted personally by each one of these calls and it is devastating for something that is supposed to be fun to result in a tragedy.’
With the abundance of lakes and rivers across Nova Scotia, there are numerous risks associated with recreation on or around water including drowning, hypothermia, boating collisions, or even getting lost. That is why citizens need to be prepared for an emergency on the water.
The following are tips are shared for quick reference with the hope of preventing a further tragedy. (Source: Canadian Red Cross)
· Never underestimate the power of current. Swimmers or waders can be swept away in an instant, particularly if non-swimmers or weak swimmers get caught by current in rivers or out of their depth in abrupt drop-offs.
· Be cautious about swimming in currents, and if caught in a current, keep calm and do not try and swim against it. Swim to the side to get yourself out of the current. If at any time you are unable to reach the shore, face the shore and draw attention to yourself by waving your arms and yelling for help.
· Wait until you are off the water before consuming alcohol. Remember, if you drink after a day of boating, be sure you have a designated driver for your vehicle.
· Don’t allow a person who has consumed alcohol to operate a boat.
· Provide non-alcoholic beverages for boat operators and passengers.
· Wear lifejackets or Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). It’s the law to carry one that fits each person in the vessel, but Red Cross recommends wearing it every trip, for the whole trip.
· Plan ahead! Check weather conditions in your area to ensure you’re aware of any hazards that may affect your trip. Plan ahead!
· The boat operator and all passengers should be well prepared and work together by sharing any duties necessary to prepare.
For more water safety tips, please visit the Canadian Red Cross website http://www.redcross.ca/training-and-certification/swimming-and-water-safety-tips-and-resources and the Nova Scotia Life Saving Society website http://www.lifesavingsociety.ns.ca/index.html .