OUR VIEW JULY 24: Don’t take water safety lightly, especially during National Drowning Prevention Week

It's summer tradition to do things like tube and float down the Kettle and Granby but don't forget water safety.

The mercury is rising and while it did rain recently in Grand Forks and surrounding area, the last week has been extremely sunny and warm.

As is the tradition at this time of year, people load up their trucks with inner tubes and floatation devices, park the vehicles by bridges and spend a relaxing afternoon floating down the Kettle and Granby Rivers.

Also, to the east at Christina Lake, the number of vessels on the water is increasing, with an RCMP summer constable patrolling the waters.

Water safety is always important but it takes on more importance as it is the National Lifesaving Society’s designated National Drowning Prevention Week (July 20 to 28).

There have been a number of drowning deaths reported on the news this past weekend (although not in the area) and it is creeping up on one year since a tragic tubing accident at Cascade Falls in the Christina Lake area and it is a reminder that people should be cautious with summer activities near water.

The lifesaving society is quoted as saying there have been 43 drowning deaths this year as opposed to 25 at this time last year.

Much like helmets on motorcycles and bicycles, people don’t always pay heed to safety on the water.

While RCMP report that there seem to be less instances of either alcohol or lack of life-jackets recently, there have been reports of people consuming alcohol and not having a fire extinguisher in previous weeks.

Graham Watt goes into to detail about things to be mindful of in his Kettle River Q&A column this week – swim or tube with more than just one person, avoid jumping from bridges, wear life-jackets – and Grand Forks Recreation mentions that it has life-jackets available for those that need them.

And while it all seem like common sense, water safety guidelines aren’t necessarily ones that people follow.

Children often frown when their parents harp on them about safety but parents have their kids’ best interests at heart and the same can be said when it comes to water safety advice that is given.

It might seem like nagging but the people giving the advice mean to keep people safe and not prevent fun.

People are perfectly entitled to enjoy the water in the summer months, particularly in this area, but be wise and be safe.

Stop the amount of drowning deaths.

– Grand Forks Gazette

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