Two recent child drownings highlight importance of water safety

June 18, 2020, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Person Drowning in WaterThe first few weeks of warm weather have come and there have already been two incidents of drownings in the area. In both cases young children were found unresponsive and taken to hospital.

The first incident involved a 5 year old child who was found in the Snyders Flats area of Woolwich Township in a pond. The child was part of a group and reportedly wandered away and into the pond. She was transported to hospital outside of the Region of Waterloo in critical condition.

The second case involved a two year old child that used a chair to climb into an above ground inflatable pool. She was pulled from the pool unresponsive and was attended to by the Brant County OPP and paramedics who were able to revive her. She was transported to hospital for observation.

OPP have issued a warning to parents, caregivers and day care providers who own back yard pools or have children in proximity to bodies of water to be vigilant. Drowning is called the silent death because unlike what many people think, people who drown generally do so very quietly.

Here are some tips for keeping children safe around pools or bodies of water:

  • Fence the pool area securely
  • ALWAYS keep children supervised and in sight
  • Keep within arm’s length of the child
  • Consider a ‘no life jacket, no go’ rule for the pool deck or lake/ waterfront area
  • Have an experienced swimmer supervising the child and someone who is trained in CPR
  • Consider hiring a life guard if you have a group event/party with several children
  • Sign your child up for swimming lessons
  • Have the appropriate rescue and first aid equipment at the pool side or lakeside
    • Life ring
    • Reach pole
    • Boat
    • Phone
    • First aid kit

Remember that if you are at the lake the rules for rescue are:


The Lancaster Fire Department offers this advice for open water rescue:

REACH: Victim(s) are located close to the shoreline and the rescuer(s) can retrieve them by reaching with their persons, rescue pole or hook, an oar, a backboard, etc without having to enter the water. Victim(s) must be conscious, alert, and able to grab and hold on to the reaching device for this method to be considered.

THROW: Victim(s) are too far away from the shoreline to be reached with a rigid object. Rescuers can throw ropes, rope bags, flotation rings or discs tied to a rope, a PDF tied to a rope, etc. to retrieve the victim without having to enter the water. Victim(s) must be conscious, alert, and able to grab and hold on to the thrown object for this method to be considered.

ROW: Victim(s) are too far away from the shoreline to be reached or to have a flotation device thrown to them. Rescuers must use a boat or approved watercraft to access and retrieve the victim(s) without having to enter the water. Once close enough to the victim(s), rescuers can Reach, Throw, or lift them directly into the boat (whichever method is easiest and safest). Victim(s) may be conscious and alert or unconscious.

GO: Rescuers must physically enter the water and swim to the victim(s) to retrieve them. This method may be used from the shoreline or from a boat depending on the circumstances. This method is typically used for unconscious victims but may also be used for conscious and alert victims that are in distress or unable to grab and hold on to a flotation device. Only those rescuers, who are strong swimmers, should enter the water to retrieve a victim.

Make sure you are communicating with any other bystanders AND the rescue victim. Personal safety in any rescue is paramount! Avoid entering the water unless no other method will work (Row, throw, reach).



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