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Chief Coroner Urging Families To Be Safe Around Water

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Chief Coroner Urging Families To Be Safe Around Water

Recent Deaths Prompt Reminder That Drowning Is Preventable

Ministry of the Solicitor General

Ontario's Chief Coroner, Dr. Andrew McCallum, is reminding all Ontarians to be safe around water this summer. Drowning deaths can be prevented when individuals act responsibly around water.

This reminder is prompted by more than a dozen drowning deaths so far this month. While drowning deaths of children under the age of five have dropped significantly in recent years - from 13 in 2010 to just three in 2011 - alcohol remains a prevalent risk factor in many drowning deaths.

In June 2011, the Office of the Chief Coroner released a report on accidental drowning deaths following a review of deaths that occurred between May and September 2010. Led by Dr. Bert Lauwers, Deputy Chief Coroner - Inquests, the review revealed some startling statistics about alcohol and drowning deaths as well as the use of life jackets.

The report pointed to four key recommendations for individuals:

  1. Learn to swim - swimming is a basic life skill that everyone should be taught regardless of age.
  2. Wear a lifejacket or a personal flotation device - even if you are a strong swimmer, as fatigue can set in very quickly.
  3. Adults should closely supervise children at all times around water.  Children can drown quickly and quietly.
  4. Alcohol should be avoided when swimming or boating.

Quick Facts

  • Alcohol was a contributing factor in 67 per cent of the drowning deaths studied between 15-64 years of age. Overall, 44 per cent of drowning deaths were alcohol related.
  • 85 per cent of the drowning deaths reviewed were male.
  • 83 per cent of the deaths related to swimming occurred when the air temperature was higher than 21 degrees Celcius.
  • 96 per cent of those operating boats who drowned were not wearing life jackets or personal flotation devices.

Additional Resources


“The results of this review reiterate the need for greater awareness of the hazards of water and the measures that can prevent these deaths. Learning to swim, avoiding alcohol while swimming and boating, wearing a life jacket and closely supervising children can save lives.”

Dr. Andrew McCallum

Chief Coroner for Ontario

Media Contacts

  • Jennifer Kerr

    Office of the Chief Coroner & Ontario Forensic Pathology Service




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