Backyard rivers, lakes and ponds safety

Drowning happens quickly and silently. It often happens when a child just slips under the water. A young child can drown in as little as 2.5 centimetres (one inch) of water in just seconds.

Child wearing a PFDDrowning is the second leading cause of death for Canadian children. Most deaths of children aged one to four are in home pools, especially when they are not supervised. Forty-two per cent of all children who drowned in the past 10 years did not have an adult watching them. Children of all ages are at the greatest risk of drowning in rivers, lakes and ponds.

Reduce the risk to your child

Stay within sight and reach of your child when in, on or around the water. Adults should stand within arm's reach of any child under five, or any older child who does not swim well, when they are in water or playing near the water.

Learn how to swim or have your child supervised by an experienced adult. Learn first aid and CPR. Make sure there is an experienced swimmer with your child whenever they are in or around the water. If your child happened to slip into the water, it is necessary to have an experienced swimmer present to quickly get the child out of the water and perform CPR, if necessary.

Young children and weak swimmers must wear lifejackets when in, on or around the water and on a boat. Lifejackets provide extra protection to your child. However, you still must supervise closely because lifejackets do not prevent drowning.

Put your child in swimming lessons. It is best to ensure that children have training but it is important to not assume that it provides them with special protection or extra care. Supervision is critical, even if your child was or is in swimming lessons.

Teach your children about the currents in lakes and rivers and about all water safety rules. It will help them to better understand why they can't do certain things when they are around or in the water.