High water increases drowning risk this weekend, coroner says

B.C.'s Coroners Service is asking people to take extra care on the water this long weekend after eight people drowned in B.C. last week.

  • Aug. 2, 2012 1:00 p.m.

B.C.’s Coroners Service is asking people to take extra care on the water this long weekend after eight people drowned in B.C. lakes and rivers last week.

Rivers, streams and lakes across the province are running higher than usual after this winter’s high snowpack and heavy rains this summer, says Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe.

“The risk in many activities such as rafting, tubing and canoeing is likely to be much higher than might otherwise be expected,” she said.

Lapointe also said visitors to B.C. are at particularly high risk because they often don’t recognize that B.C. waterways are likely more hazardous than other parts of Canada and the world.

The water is often colder, lakes have steep drop-offs, and underwater debris can pose unseen dangers.

Of the average 80 drowning deaths in B.C. over the last five years, five out of six people who drowned were male.

Alcohol or drugs were involved in 42 per cent of those deaths.

B.C.’s Coroners Service reminds anyone who goes boating or tubing this weekend to wear a properly fitting Personal Flotation Device (PFD), along with children or weak swimmers who are playing at a river or lakeside.