As the construction holidays near and many vacationers plan to spend time near a pool, a lake or the sea, a new poll suggests that only one Quebecer out of three says they constantly supervise children under 12 years old when near a body of water.
The survey, conducted by Allstate of Canada, suggests more than half of Quebecers — 55 per cent — will spend their vacations near a body of water. However, only 32 per cent say they constantly supervise children age 12 and under when near that water, a finding that shocks Raynald Hawkins of the Quebec Lifesaving Society.
“I was surprised by that finding,” he said, adding that leaving young children unsupervised by a body of water is the equivalent of letting them cross the street by without supervision.
“Child drowning is a quiet phenomenon,” he said. “It takes 15 to 20 seconds. There’s no talk, no yelling out, no crying. It’s the time I could take to do something else other than watch, to go and answer the phone, or the time I could spend playing on my phone.”
Statistics compiled by Hawkins’ group for 2018 show that 41 per cent of drownings occurred rivers, 28 per cent in lakes or ponds and 13 per cent in swimming pools. But no matter where the location, those numbers drop by one percentage point in areas with surveillance.
The Allstate survey shows that 25 per cent of adults say they take turns ensuring that someone is always responsible for watching children near water, a finding that encourages Hawkins.
“When you organize a dinner or a party, there is always a designated driver for the trip home,” he said. “So when you’re doing the same near a body of water, make sure you have what I would call a designated lifeguard.”
Hawkins urges everyone — adults and children — to learn how to swim. But he warns that parents should not assume their child is immune from all danger simply because they took swimming lessons.
“Even on vacation, safety tips should be followed,” he said.