LETTER:Make 2021 tragedy-free on local waters

Dear Jason,

Thursday, May 2o is National Lifejacket Day and, as importantly, there’s a new, volunteer public safety entity taking shape in our Quinte region I’m fortunate to be part of.

Canada-wide, statistics claim that one child will drown every two weeks this year between June and September. In The County, last year saw multiple drownings at North Beach Provincial Park in Consecon; and at least 5 drownings, or near drownings overall, including at Sandbanks Provincial Park and Wellington Beach. But under the leadership of folks like our PEC OPP Detachment Staff Sergeant John Hatch, and Tanya Grierson, Belleville’s Recreation Program Supervisor, the new Quinte Region Drowning Prevention Coalition (QRDPC) is launching a timely public awareness campaign to arrest those statistics.

There are some basics to preventing summer drownings: stay within arm’s length of your children, take swimming lessons (PEFAC offers them), always use a Transport Canada or Canadian Coast Guard approved personal floatation device when boating, avoid distractions (like smartphones), keep a head-count, and learn CPR and First Aid. Especially in today’s Covid19 era of restrictions and limitations, drowning prevention must move beyond just backyard & public pool concerns. Moreover, there will be a Free Lifejacket lending program at Sandbanks Provincial Park this year, take advantage of it… in particular for weaker swimmers in your group or family.

Drowning is silent, can happen quickly, and at any moment… but it is totally preventable. Let’s enjoy our natural wonders this summer, and make it a no drownings year in The County!

Sincerely,

Bill Roberts

Volunteer, Quinte Region Drowning Prevention Coalition (QRDPC)

PEC Councillor – Sophiasburgh