With summer upon us, the Canadian Red Cross is reminding residents in cottage country about the importance of swimming and boating safety.

For many families, summer includes activities such as boating and swimming, but each year there are tragic and avoidable water-related fatalities that occur across our waters.

In an interview with MyMuskokaNow, Velma Ganassini, with the Canadian Red Cross says there is an abundance of ways to protect you and others while out on the water.

“If you’re out in open water – one of the major concerns, of course, is watercrafts out on the water and being aware of people and crafts around you. Also, the sun, it’s important that you are well protected from it, so you don’t get burned – use sunscreen, wear a hat, etcetera.”

When it comes to lifejackets or PFDs, Ganassini says that having them close by isn’t close enough. 

She notes if you’re in a boat – it’s especially important that each passenger is wearing one of these pieces of equipment in order to reduce the risk of injuries or accidents.  

“When a child is wearing a lifejacket – or anybody for that matter but particularly a child, it should be well-fitted, tight, all the buckles and snaps done up, zippers done up and if you pull or tug at the shoulders – it should not go above the nose.”

Ganassini also points out that many drowning incidents involve other factors that swimming skills alone cannot prepare an individual for – such as being distracted or being impaired.

She says there are approximately 125 boating-related fatalities in Canada each year.

“90 percent of those fatalities are men – so we really need to talk to men about water safety. Most of those people were not wearing a PFD or lifejacket, and in approximately half those incidents – alcohol was involved.”

For more on swimming, boating and other water safety tips – head here