Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Minister of Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Jim Rondeau flanked by Shawn Feely of the Red Cross (L) and Carl Shier of the Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters (R) demonstrate life-jacket safety and proclaim National Water Safety Week.
Minister of Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Jim Rondeau flanked by Shawn Feely of the Red Cross (L) and Carl Shier of the Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters (R) demonstrate life-jacket safety and proclaim National Water Safety Week
July 17, 2013


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Manitoba Expands Life-jacket Loaner Program to Selected Provincial Parks
Manitobans are urged to be aware of the importance of safety measures, including the use of
life-jackets and avoiding alcohol, when boating or swimming at the province’s many beautiful lakes, rivers and recreational swimming areas, Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau announced today.
“It only takes a second for a great day on the water to turn tragic,” said Rondeau.  “We urge parents and guardians to keep small children within arm’s reach at all times, and now, even if you forget a life-jacket, you can borrow one for the day.”
National Drowning Prevention Week is a life-saving initiative sponsored by the Lifesaving Society of Canada.  It is devoted to raising awareness of the risks of drowning and is focused on two key messages:
  • always wear a life jacket while in or near water, and
  • keep children within arm’s reach when swimming or playing in water.
Rondeau also announced the expansion of the ‘Kids Don’t Float’ life-jacket loaner program, which is part of a range of programs offered by the province and safety organizations to help families enjoy their summers on the province’s waters.
The Kid’s Don’t Float life-jacket loaner stations will be set up in partnership with the Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters at beaches in provincial parks where no life guards are on duty.  The first station is at the beach in Campers Cove boat launch at Clearwater Provincial Park.  Other stations will be added later this year at St. Malo, Moose Lake, Grass River, Paint Lake, Stephenfield, Manipogo and Rainbow Beach provincial parks.
“The simplicity of increasing personal safety around water is as easy as putting on a life-jacket, but it only works if you wear it,” said Carl Shier, chairperson, Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters.  “Eighty per cent of boating-related drowning victims in Canada were not wearing a life-jacket.”
The launch of these loaner stations comes just prior to National Drowning Prevention Week, which runs July 20 to 27.  The third week of July is statistically the most critical period of summer to be aware of water safety.
“Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Canadians, so it’s important that everyone wears a life-jacket while enjoying activities in or on the water,” said Shawn Feely, provincial director, Red Cross, Manitoba.  “We urge parents to understand the risks to children and enrol themselves and their children in swimming and water-safety training.”
Rondeau noted the province has partnered with the Manitoba Coalition for Safer Waters since 2006 to provide a range of water-safety programs including:
  • a personal flotation device loaner program, which provides the free loan of PFDs that can be used for swimming lessons, boat trips and other community-led events in more than 70 northern and remote communities in Manitoba;
  • Manitoba Water Safety Grants, which provide a one-time grant up to $2,500 for community-led projects such as training lifeguards and swim instructors, improving waterfront signage, increasing supervision of young people near water or building barriers to protect the public from hazardous waterfronts; and
  • a public awareness campaign that emphasizes the importance of sober boating and keeping children within arm’s reach at all times when swimming.
Each year, the province partners with the Lifesaving Society of Canada to deliver the Northern Water Safety program, which includes Swim to Survive, BOAT, emergency first-aid and CPR training.  Last summer, six instructors travelled to 37 communities to work with more than 1,900 participants.
A winter safety program is also delivered each year in co-operation with the Frontier School Division, which last year provided advanced training to people in another seven northern outlying communities who are working towards achieving lifeguard/instructor status and want to increase local capacity for water safety training, Rondeau said.
The Lifesaving Society of Canada is a national, volunteer organization and charity comprising 10 provincial and territorial branches.  It is a leader and partner in the delivery of water-safety education throughout Canada, and has taught water safety and water rescue since 1896.
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