NANAIMO -- The City of Nanaimo is reminding people to be prepared and safe around any body of water as warmer weather is starting to hit the region.

“Nanaimo is surrounded by water, with lakes, rivers and the ocean, and we would like to remind residents to follow all of the recommendations while near or in bodies of water to prevent drowning and to stay safe as the weather warms up,” said Ashley Rowe, aquatics coordinator for the City of Nanaimo.

The city’s recommendations are:

  • Be prepared: check equipment and the weather forecast; know the waters and your ability.
  • Share your water sport activity in the company of a friend or a family member; bring a buddy.
  • Wear a portable flotation device when boating and when young children are close to the water.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Avoid the use of alcohol and drugs as they impair decision-making and physical abilities.
  • Use active supervision and stay within arm’s reach of children while in or around the water.
  • Know how to call for help: 911 within city limits, *16 on a cell phone or channel 16 on a VHF radio.
  • Learn how to swim.

Absent or distracted supervision of children and not wearing a personal floatation device, the city says, are the main contributing factors to drownings.

“Having PFDs on is the best way to prevent drownings,” said Rowe.

Almost two-thirds – 64 per cent – of drownings in B.C. each year happen between May and September.

According to the Lifesaving Society’s B.C. and Yukon branch website, 35 per cent of those drownings are boating related.

The city says those most at risk of drowning are children under 5 years old and men aged 18 to 49. They also add that drowning can occur in as little as four seconds.