Monday, May 21, 2018

Missing Life Preservation

Sad news on the weekend about those two young women who fell into the waters of Lake Couchiching (in Orillia, Ontario) after their canoe capsized. One managed to swim to shore but the other did not make it. Neither was wearing a life jacket.

When I was twenty years of age I went canoeing with friends in an overloaded canoe -- four of us. And we were not wearing life jackets as we took the canoe up the Nottawasaga River here in Ontario. The trip was eventful enough in that there were a few portages to hop. The bad news came about when we paddled around a hairpin turn. We rolled like the SMS Blücher. The canoe's crew fell into the river. Instinct takes over during moments like that, as anyone could tell you who's been thrown into such distress.

My own instinct combined with my ability to swim -- my mother was a swim coach -- to guide me to that waiting marker on the river bank. Feet paddled as the rest of me front-crawled, propelling me to safety. All four of us thankfully made it to shore.

I'm not trying to impress anyone with my swimming skills. Really. More impressive: We got lucky. Any bad luck, like getting bonked on the head by a capsizing canoe, got swept down the river.

As an epidemiologist friend said to me a few years ago: "There's no such thing as an accident."

1 comment:

DonaldAR said...

Truly tragic; in the classical sense, as was the death of Jeremiah Perry, the 15-year-old student who drowned while swimming, on a school-run camping trip in Algonquin park in July of 2017.
Training in water survival skills should be mandatory in Canada. For children absolutely, but also those no longer children, who have managed to land on our shores lacking basic swimming skills. Perhaps folks should be required to produce documentation of R.L.S.S.C (Royal Life Saving Society Canada) bronze medallion certification, before renting/purchasing watercraft, participating in activities on or near water, buying properties with pools, ponds or bodies of water nearby, etc. Deaths from drowning in circumstances such as these are completely, 100% preventable.