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Summer of 2021 sees more drownings in Alberta

Floating along the Bow River on a sunny afternoon. Sunday, August 4th, 2019. (PHOTO: Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY — This year was one of the worst summers ever for drownings in the province.

According to the Lifesaving Society of Alberta, there have been at least 25 fatal drownings and 15 close calls, numbers the agency hasn’t seen in 20 years.

The Society’s Drowning Prevention Coordinator Kelsey Lalonde says part of the reason is due to the pandemic with more people heading to natural bodies of water because of the pandemic.

“Many people are swimming in locations that are not supervised by our national lifeguards as rec centres were shut down and even with this summer, they were slowly opening but it’s taking a while with staffing,” said Lalonde.

She’s encouraging people headed out near or on the water to be safe over the long weekend.


Lalonde points out that some of the drownings this summer were people who went in to save others.

“If you see someone drowning you do not go in for them. You call for help and you take note of that location in which you saw the incident happen and that way you can help emergency services who are trained to save people to do so. So always call for help.”

The Lifesaving Society has some tips for those headed to lakes and rivers:

  • Always keep children within arm’s reach when swimming.
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating.
  • Learn about the water conditions prior to entering a body of water.
  • Be honest about your swimming ability before entering a body of water. Do not go swimming in deep water without a lifejacket if you cannot swim.
  • Do not attempt to swim out and rescue someone in deep water if you are not trained to perform a rescue. Instead, immediately activate Emergency Services by calling 911.