The climate might be dry, but there is no shortage of lakes and beaches in the Okanagan, giving it a well-deserved reputation for fun in and around the water.
But when relaxing at the beach, on a boat or floating down the Okanagan River channel, it’s easy to forget that playing on the water brings with it a certain amount of danger as well.
On June 29, a man died in Wood Lake when he dove into the water to help his sons who were struggling. The boys survived, but the father, an able swimmer, drowned, shocked by the cold water and caught in an undertow from a nearby creek.
And earlier this week, tragedy was averted on the channel when bystanders cut a man free from the rope he had used to tie two floatation devices together, which had then caught on a piling and trapped his arm.
That’s just two examples, which are part of an unfortunately long list. According to the Lifesaving Society, there has already been 37 drowning deaths in B.C. this year, up from 20 last year at this time.
Most of us would never think of getting drunk and climbing behind the wheel of a car. But unfortunately, far too many don’t use the same common sense when driving a boat or engaging in other activities on the water. Alcohol and drugs account for 40 per cent of drownings, whether swimming or in boats.
It’s great to have the hot weather we’ve been waiting for so long and to pair that up with cool waters, but those refreshing moments can quickly turn terrifying, as the man trapped on the channel found out.
Enjoy the summer, but before heading to the lakes, make sure to familiarize yourself with safety tips, familiarize yourself with the conditions and above all, use common sense.