Red Cross drowning research reveals surprising data

Drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children younger than 10, but recent Canadian Red Cross research shows the majority of Canadian parents do not understand what is needed to safeguard children in, on and around the water. Statistics show that 90 per cent of children who drown in shallow water are not with a supervising adult.

“Children can drown quickly and quietly, and often in situations where they were not expected to enter the water,” said Deanna Udy, Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Program. “Only one-third of children and youth who drown in Canada were taking part in aquatic activities that parents typically see as risky, like swimming or wading. One-third of children drown in situations where they enter the water unexpectedly, like by falling from a dock or entering the water without their caregiver’s knowledge.”

Red Cross public opinion research shows that Canadian parents significantly underestimate children’s risk of drowning in shallow water:

• Ninety per cent of parents with children younger than four say that water depth influences their level of supervision, while data shows that 40 per cent of children drown in water less than one metre deep.

• One in five parents in B.C. say they would allow a child under six to play near the water without a lifejacket on, yet 80 per cent of children this age who drowned in Canada had not intended to enter the water.

“With summer around the corner, we urge parents to understand the risks to children when they are in the water, and also when they are on or near it,” adds Udy.

Water Safety Week is June 1 to 8 and the Red Cross is calling on all parents and adults to effectively supervise children by maintaining them within reach and within sight at all times. The Red Cross has been helping to keep Canadians safe in, on and around water since 1946. For more information about Canadian Red Cross swimming and water safety programs, or for safety tips, visit