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Office of the Chief Coroner releases its 2010 Drowning Death Review

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Office of the Chief Coroner releases its 2010 Drowning Death Review

Ministry of the Solicitor General

Dr. Andrew McCallum, Chief Coroner for Ontario, today announced the results of the Office of the Chief Coroner's review of the drowning deaths that occurred in the months of May, June, July, August and September 2010. The purpose of this review was to identify common factors that may have played a role in the deaths and if necessary, make recommendations to prevent similar deaths. Led by Dr. Bert Lauwers, Deputy Chief Coroner for Investigations, the Review Team examined 89 accidental drowning deaths. Highlights of the report include:

  • There was a 260% increase in drowning deaths in children less than 5 years of age. 13 of the 89 (15%) deaths in this review were in children less than 5 years of age.
  • Drowning is largely a male-related phenomenon. 76 of 89 (85%) deaths were male.
  • 71 of 89 (80%) of the deaths occurred in persons aged less than 5 and between 15-64 years of age.
  • 55 of 66 (83%) of the deaths related to swimming occurred when the air temperature was higher than 21 degrees Celsius.
  • 22 of 23 (96%) of those operating power boats and unpowered boats that drowned were not wearing life jackets or personal flotation devices.
  • Alcohol was a contributing factor in 39 of 58 (67%) of the drowning deaths between 15-64 years of age. Overall, 39 of 89 (44%) of drowning deaths were alcohol related.In 2010, for those in whom the swimming status was known, 24 of 60 (40%) were non-swimmers.
  • 20 of 59 (34%) of the drowning victims for whom their heritage was known were not born in Canada.
The Review Team made 12 recommendations in the areas of public safety and drowning prevention. "The results of this review reiterate the need for greater awareness of the hazards of water and the measures that can prevent these preventable deaths. Learning to swim, avoiding alcohol while swimming and boating, wearing a life jacket and closely supervising children can save lives," said Dr. McCallum. Drs. McCallum and Lauwers would like to thank the Canadian Red Cross, the Lifesaving Society, Safe Kids Canada, the Hospital for Sick Children, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and members of the public for their assistance. The Review Team extends a special thank you to the families of the deceased for sharing their experiences under very difficult circumstances. The Office of the Chief Coroner encourages all Ontarians to take personal responsibility for ensuring their own water safety. Ontarians who wish to learn more about staying safe in and around water should contact the Lifesaving Society, the Red Cross or other similar organizations in their area for information and assistance.

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