In Ontario, eight out of every ten people drowning are men.
I don’t know about you, but I find that statistic shocking!
I believe we need to look closely at why men are drowning in high numbers and how we can prevent it!
Here are some of the most important points from the Life Saving Society’s 2017 Drowning Report to get you up to speed on what is happening:
- The highest rate of drownings occurs in men 65 years old and over.
- The second highest rate of drownings occurs in men between the ages of 20 and 24 years old.
- The top three activities participated in at the time of drowning were aquatic activities (30%), non-aquatic activities (22%) and boating (19%).
- 86% of boaters who drowned were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket.
- Of the boaters who drowned, 37% capsized, 36% were drinking alcohol, 30% were boating alone and 29% fell overboard.
- Of men in the 65+ year-old age group, 79% were not wearing a PFD or lifejacket and 77% were swimming alone.
- Of men in the 20 – 34 year-old age group, 79% were not wearing a PFD or lifejacket, 52% were drinking, 33% were alone and 26% were swimming after dark.
It is pretty clear from the overlap in these statistics that making different choices at the time could have prevented many of these men from drowning.
Here are two easy things we can all do to change these statistics:
1. Start the conversation early.
Let’s start talking to the men in our lives before they become a part of the at-risk age groups.
We need to bring awareness to risk factors (no PFD, alcohol, swimming after dark or alone) in a way that our boys are open to receiving this information so that we can help shape their decision-making for the future.
A great age to begin this water safety conversation is between five and twelve years old. Boys often receive preventive information better when they hear it young and it is relayed as “just the way we do things.” That way when we talk about not mixing alcohol and boating, ALWAYS wearing a PFD when boating, NOT swimming alone or after dark, it comes across as no big deal.
If we wait until our sons are older to start having these conversations, then we risk missing our window of influence.
Things change for them in their teens and their peer groups become a strong influence especially when it comes to risky behavior. They are more influenced by wanting to fit in with their friends and not as open to what parents have to say.The difference between life and death in a drowning situation is often just one misguided choice. Click To Tweet
2. Model the correct behaviour.
Another great way to bookend the conversation about aquatic safety is to model best practices from the start.
Our kids copy everything we do, so set the stage for success from the beginning by adopting some solid safety procedures so they can follow your lead.
Let’s face it, Dads (and brothers and grandpas!) are important influences on our boys, so why not share these stats with the men in your child’s life and get them on board as good influences! Why not ask them to commit to following the four basic safety rules?
- ALWAYS wear a PFD when boating.
- NO alcohol when boating or swimming.
- NO swimming after dark.
- NO swimming alone.
Avoiding all four risk factors reduces drowning risk by a whopping 86% for him and his son/brother/grandson!
When I see statistics like this my heart breaks because these tragedies are completely preventable.
The difference between life and death in a drowning situation is often just one misguided choice.
With a bit of education, like the information in this report prepared by the Drowning Prevention Research Centre for the Lifesaving Society, a life could be saved!