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

Where a five-point bull elk shot in a bow-only area near Sparwood. (Photo contributed by Conservation Officer Service.)
Conservation Officers seek info on bull elk shot in bow-only area

The five-point bull elk was shot near Sparwood on Oct. 18

The most recent council meeting was streamed via Zoom on Oct. 20. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
District of Sparwood revisits support for no-cost contraception

Representatives from Sparwood Contraception Access Advocates brough the matter back to council

COVID-19 test tube. (Contributed)
test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health launches online booking for COVID-19 tests

Testing is available to anyone with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

STA members and non-members alike are encouraged to send in photos of their trail adventures. (Photo contributed by Scott Tibballs)
Sparwood Trails Alliance fundraises for Lunch Loop

Trail adventurers are invited to submit photos of their adventures for an STA calendar

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

BC ELECTION
B.C. political leaders reflect on rural health care as election looms

NDP leader John Horgan, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson talk health care priorities in the Kootenays

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast a ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

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

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

A Tim Hortons employee hands out coffee from a drive-through window to a customer in Mississauga, Ont., on March 17, 2020. Tim Hortons is ending the practice of double cupping hot drinks, a move the fast food restaurant says will eliminate hundreds of millions of cups from landfills each year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
The end of double cupping: Tim Hortons ditches two cups in favour of one with sleeve

Most recycling facilities in Canada don’t recycle single use paper coffee cups because of a plastic lining

Most Read