Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Drowning by fishing, boating

I like to surprise people with posts! I felt that, with the summer season, as a mom/grandma, it is important to be cautious around water.

And, as I told a Globe and Mail reporter, Kate Hammer,  in an interview on Tuesday*, nothing has been learned in the year since we lost three teenaged men in a drinking and unsafe driving incident a year ago, July 3, 2008.

(*What remains by the lake - The Globe and Mail

"Nothing's changed," said Jennifer Jilks, a Muskoka cottager for more than 40 years...)
 The message in the bottle tells the story.

As I have been writing, we really can prevent these fatalities. Yes, we knew this. This is not new. Drowning is something that affects of of society.
  • waterskiing without a spotter
  • children swimming alone
  • seniors swimming alone (a sector that is increasing due to demographics, and a stubborn independence!)
  • inexperienced canoeists (two last year)
  • inexperienced swimmers near a dam (one last year)
  • Personal Watercraft (PWC) operators speeding
  • people unfamiliar with boats (bad enough)
  • fishing drunk (even worse)
  • boating drunk (the worst)

We will not, as Cindy says, call these accidents, since they are self-inflicted wounds. Statistically-speaking, if you drink you have a strong chance of getting into trouble. If you do not wear a life jacket, you have a stronger chance of drowning. If you climb into a boat, or on a PWC, you do not know who is coming around the corner, or when your time is up.

As a retired teacher, I have seen a fair share of accidents. I am used to crowd control. Crowded lakes are not safe places. I am preoccupied with safety; you can read it in my blog. Living on a lake, as we do, - full time: rain snow, sleet or hail...I have seen the yahoos and heard the sirens as our tireless OPP and EMS crews respond. I can hear the OPP helicopter, as it screams south to take a patient to hospital. It breaks my heart as I know that the crews, the victim's families, and all of us will suffer for it.

While the Canadian Red Cross attributes alcohol as a factor in 34% of all drownings, in 30% of the cases they did not have any information on this factor. We do not know what we do not know! So far this summer all drownings have been males.

Fishing is the big one: 40% of all boating drownings, and 18% of all drowning activities. Do you know that alcohol is a factor in about half of these cases? Can you imagine why? After a day sitting around fishing and making a ruckus, then they go out on the water.

We see and hear them. For all of us - speak out. Stand up and be a friend. Tell that that what they are doing is wrong. Refuse to drink, boat, swim or allow them to hurt others this way. Their unborn children will thank you.

See also:

Many drownings related to alcohol, study says
July 8, 2009 - by Evan French
"A pair of newly released drowning trend reports, compiling 10 years of research by the Canadian Red Cross, show that boating fatalities make up 39 per cent of drowning victims, and alcohol is a factor in about half of the cases."


iriegal said...

Hi, thanks so much for all the wonderful information. I can't swim so trust me I took it all in

EG CameraGirl said...

Informative post, Jenn. I do hope we have fewer water accidents this year because vacationers are using their heads. Unfortunately, alcohol dulls the senses.

April said...

I hope everyone will have a safe summer out on the water.

auringonkukka :) said...

thank you once visited a village home pages! nice week!

and beautiful photos!

Cindy Smith, Editor, Education for the Driving Masses said...

Well, you know Jenn ... to borrow some words of astoundingly bad wisdom from my readership, no one sets out to drown when they go swimming. I love this statement - sarcasm intended.

On my site, I have heard the same claim 1,000 times over, no sets out to be in a car accident when they get up in the morning. This all goes back to personal responsibility. When one goes swimming, that person must take the necessary precautions not to drown or engage in risky behaviour that could prove fatal. It's no different than how one should go about driving.

At least you brought light to the often neglected issue of boating and swimming safety. Good post. The question is, will it sink it for the masses?

Jenn Jilks said...

I firmly believe it will not, Cindy. We believe "it won't happen me!"

Why I fervently hope is that family, friends, the public will believe and just like drinking and driving (about which awareness has increased - your site helps), people will take the boat keys away from others, and suggest that people sober up, and not fish and drink. We have a fair number of hunters out here, and they do not seem to be killing themselves. There is a culture of drinking and boating that must be changed.