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Have a waterwise summer

Hot weather ahead: time to talk water
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Whatever way you use the water in the dog days of summer, treat it with care and respect. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Hot summer weather brings us back to reminders about water usage and safety. Whether you're playing on the water, or using the resource in and around your home, it's a good time to review. 

A recent Allstate/Leger poll shows 57% of Canadians surveyed plan to be near water this summer, despite limited access to swimming, lessons and training during the pandemic. 

While cooling off in the water sounds appealing to many, the survey data also reveals that swimming skills and water safety techniques could be lagging. For almost a third of Canadian respondents (30%), the pandemic has negatively impacted their time spent reinforcing and learning about water safety due to fewer opportunities to swim, cancelled or missed swimming lessons, or a pause in learning lifesaving techniques and training.

According to the Lifesaving Society’s 2020 Drowning Report, 70% of the drownings in Canada occurred in natural bodies of water. These numbers highlight the need for more education and public awareness of water safety, particularly this summer when so many families are planning to spend time near water. 

“There are significant risks involved in a waterfront property, especially if it’s still very new to you,’’ said Wendy Schultenkamper, Director of Operations at Lifesaving Society Canada. ‘‘Dangers and risks associated with water are always present, so it’s crucial to set clear rules for everyone to follow. All in all, water safety requires constant re-education."

Water Safety Tips

Here are some best practices for water safety from the Lifesaving Society to help protect you and your loved ones.

For cottage and pool owners:

  • Restrict access to water when unsupervised – If there is no one designated to supervise swimmers, it's best not to take any chances. Make sure you always follow safety guidelines and maintain control over access to the pool or natural bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, spas and even wading pools.

  • For renters:

  • Avoid venturing into unfamiliar bodies of water – Some waterways may look harmless, but powerful springtime currents in rivers, for example, can surprise even the most experienced swimmers.

  • Do not use a watercraft unless you are experienced and certified – If you are operating a powered water vessel, you should have your Pleasure Craft Operator (PCO) card.

  • Basic safety rules still apply when renting a cottage – For example, wear your life jacket on watercraft, stay sober when boating, have a designated lifeguard and learn how to swim.

At home, water is also a critical resource. With many tending to gardens, it's always a good reminder to use water resources wisely, according to the City of Calgary.

Before turning on the hose, check the weather forecast. If rain is expected in the next few days, skip watering and let Mother Nature take care of that job for you. You can also reduce your watering needs by keeping your lawn three inches high and leaving the clippings on the lawn. The short clippings will quickly break down, returning valuable nutrients to the soil, while the taller grass shades the soil, requiring less water. Adding bark, wood or mulch to gardens beds will also protect your garden beds from the sun and reduce evaporation from the soil.