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

Young Abbotsford cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

OPINION: Beautiful B.C. – Isn’t it great? Shhh… Don’t tell anyone!

Huge numbers flocked to popular Chilliwack River Valley on Labour Day weekend

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Most Read