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Drowning Prevention with Oshawa Fire

Proud supporters of Lakeridge Health Foundation’s annual Nightshift event, Oshawa Fire sits down with us to share drowning prevention tips with our Durham Region community.

During the summer, the high temperatures means everyone is trying to keep cool. Trying to beat the heat with water-related activities comes with a risk though, something you may not think about as you are taking out the pool noodles.

“The majority of water emergencies we respond to in the summer are pool and backyard accidents,” shares Ken Whitman, Training Officer with Oshawa Fire. “A lot of backyard accidents involve children or even adults left unsupervised, including diving accidents, or people drinking by the pool.”

Ken works with Oshawa Fire to prepare the teams to respond to all manners of situations, including water emergencies but also gas leaks, trench and confined space rescues, auto extraction, medical and fire emergencies. This July, Ken had the technical rescue team re-trained on water rescues. For the technical rescue team, this training involves learning about water rescue protocols, and equipment like submersion suits and rope bags that can be used during a water emergency to save someone’s life.

“We are constantly looking into new programs and looking into emergency rescue protocols. There is a lot going on with [Oshawa Fire] …behind the scenes in order to train and to keep everyone up to date so they can save lives.”

While both Oshawa Fire and Lakeridge Health are equipped to respond to water-related emergencies, drowning prevention starts at home.

According to the Lifesaving Society, approximately 166 Ontarians die each year in preventable water-related incidents. Of those drownings, more than half happen from May to September. Drowning can occur in as little as 10-30 seconds and is often silent. Since most drowning victims cannot actually swim, they are unable to splash or yell as they are focused on trying to surface just to breathe.

Practice water safety with your family:

  • Always supervise children. Remember, if you are not within arms’ reach, you have gone too far.
  • Always swim with a buddy. 32% of drowning deaths happen when someone is swimming along.
  • Alcohol plays a factor. Alcohol increases your drowning risk, whether you are near water, swimming, or boating.  
  • Especially while boating, always wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device. Not wearing a Lifejacket or PFD was a factor in 88% of Ontario boating deaths.

Oshawa Fire is prepared to respond to a variety of emergencies within our community, and greatly support the efforts of Lakeridge Health. Including at the Lakeridge Health Foundation’s annual Nightshift event. At Nightshift (link to new window: nightshift), North America’s only medical simulation challenge open to the public, Oshawa Fire is on site at Lakeridge Health taking participants through emergency training to prepare them for their simulations. For the past three years, Oshawa Fire have supported Nightshift in order to raise funds for critical needs at Lakeridge Health.

“It’s important to give back to the community,” Ken says. “I think that is especially true for organizations like the Lakeridge Health Foundation that helps so many people in the community. I think we’re lucky to have a facility like Lakeridge Health within our community and it is important for people, if they have the ability, to step up and support [our Hospital.]”

While the Oshawa community is lucky to have officers like Ken and his team available to support our Hospital and respond to emergency situations, do your best this summer to practice water safety at home and prevent water emergencies before they happen.