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CHEO Promotes Increased Vigilance during "Pool and Swimming Season"

OTTAWA, ON – As temperatures are reaching all-time highs and people flock to pools and beaches to get a reprieve from the heat, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) would like to remind all parents, caregivers and children to practice safe swimming and to be extra vigilant around water. 

Year after year, the staff at CHEO witnesses the tragic consequences of drowning and near- drowning incidents. Each year, the equivalent of two elementary school classrooms die by drowning in Canada – approximately 60 children. Another 140 children have near-drowning experiences that can result in serious long-term effects such as brain injury.

“Summer is a time of increased risk for tragic drowning injuries in children, as the temperature rises and people turn to pools, beaches and water parks to cool down. A young child can drown quickly and silently,” says Dr. Stephen Noseworthy, Emergency Physician and medical director of Trauma at CHEO.  “Increased vigilance and supervision by parents and caregivers, as well as educating children can go a long way in preventing drowning,” he adds.

Drowning is the second leading cause of injury–related deaths for Canadian children.   Children drown in backyard swimming pools, bathtubs, rivers and lakes, hot tubs, ditches, ponds, sewage lagoons and canals.  But for children under the age of four, most drowning takes place in home pools.

CHEO therefore recommends that homeowners erect four-sided isolation fencing around backyard pools and spas even if it is not required by local bylaws.

Parents and caregivers are also reminded to never be out of arms reach from children when in the water, close to water and even when a lifeguard is on duty. Active supervision is the key. Fourty two percent of all children who drowned in the past 10 years did not have an adult watching them. Educating children to the dangers associated with unsupervised swimming and teaching them safety precautions are important measures to take at this time of year.

Remember these important drowning prevention guidelines:

  1. Actively supervise children when they are around or in the water – even if a lifeguard is on duty.
  2. Get training in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  3. Erect four sided pool fencing
  4. Use lifejackets
  5. Enroll children in swimming lessons

It is important to remember that drowning is preventable. Together we can save lives!

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For further information, please contact Marie Belanger, Media Relations, 613-737-2343 or

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