BC Hydro survey finds that most British Columbians overestimate their swimming abilities. (Photo courtesy of Jeanne Hasenmiller)

British Columbians overestimate their swimming abilities, survey finds

Thirty per cent of people polled by BC Hydro said they’ve had a near drowning experience

British Columbians are overconfident in their swimming abilities, which could be leading to an increase in swimming-related incidents, a new BC Hydro report suggests.

The survey, which polled 600 people, found that 85 per cent of British Columbians considered themselves experienced swimmers – despite most only going into the water a few times a year. Ten per cent of respondents said they’ve never completed a swimming lesson.

The survey also found that 30 per cent of people polled have had a near drowning experience, and another 53 per cent have witnessed a person in distress while in the water.

Unsafe behaviours are also cited as a reason for increase in water incidents. Almost half of respondents said they’ve gone into the water under the influence of alcohol or cannabis – a decision men are 30 per cent more likely to make than women.

The province sees an average of 76 drowning deaths per year, according the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit.

READ MORE: Good Samaritan recalls diving in to try to rescue young man who drowned at B.C. lake

Staying vigilant is especially important with children. Drowning is the second-most common cause of death for children under five years old in Canada. BC Hydro’s survey found that 40 per cent of parents said that they have been distracted when their children were in the water.

BC Hydro manages 19 recreation areas including parks and beaches near power-generating dam sites that draw two million visitors annually. More people are expected this year as vacationers stay near home due to the ongoing pandemic.

The report says 20 per cent of those surveyed admitted to swimming out of bounds. Men were 70 per cent more likely than women to venture into those areas.

“This is especially dangerous at BC Hydro’s recreation sites,” the report says. “Many of these sites are located on working reservoirs, meaning there are dam structures that can be dangerous if signage is not obeyed and distance is not maintained.”

BC Hydro offered some recommendations for people looking to visit their recreation sites over the summer. These include that people avoid that sense of security, to never leave children unsupervised and to understand the water situation before people get in, as well as never getting into the water while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

They also warned to always check the water temperature and to be conscious that water levels can change quickly at uncontrolled sites.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Arts council hopeful that Winter Arts and Crafts Fair will go ahead

The 100 Mile and District Arts Council is looking at gaming grants and other funding options in the event it has to cancel the annual South Cariboo Winter Arts and Crafts Fair due to COVID-19.

Newcomers welcome in the 108

When newcomers move to 108 Mile Ranch, Bev French is ready to welcome them.

Centennial Park fully reopened for the public

The fence has been taken down and residents now have free run of the park

Drive-thru fundraiser wrangles $2,000

Another event is planned for Sept. 7

SD27 prepares for ‘full return’ to schools

As the clock ticks down to September, a new poll suggests many Canadian parents are on the fence about whether to send their kids to school if and when classrooms are reopened.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

B.C. wildfire crews have battled 111 blazes in the last seven days

Twenty-nine fires remain active, as of Friday (Aug 7)

B.C. group renews call for protection of newly discovered glass sponge reefs

DFO says public consultation will play heavy role in future protection measures

‘We don’t make the rules’: Okanagan pub owner says staff harassed over pandemic precautions

‘If you have six people plus a baby, guess what? That’s seven’ - West Kelowna Kelly O’Bryan’s owner

Most Read