Drowning incidents increase in Okanagan as summer picks up

Drowning incidents increase in Okanagan as summer picks up

There are now 23 drownings in the province to date, with four from the Okanagan

Recent sunny and hot weather has more and more people coming to the lake to cool off.

The B.C. Day long weekend hit highs of mid-30 C, tapering off late on Aug. 3, but not before some water-related incidents.

An Alberta man was cliff jumping near Rattlesnake Island. The 33-year-old didn’t surface after jumping into the water, which started off a five-day search for him that involved an RCMP underwater recovery team, Peachland Fire and Rescue, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue (COSAR). His body was recovered on Aug. 5.

In Vernon, the body of a 21-year-old man was recovered from Okanagan Lake on Aug. 2. Police said personal items that belonged to the man were also found along the shore. Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said there is no criminality involved in the death.

Lifesaving Society of B.C. and Yukon, an organization working to prevent drowning and water-related injuries through training. According to the society, there have been 23 drownings in the province so far. Four of those incidents come from the Central Okanagan, and two from the North Okanagan, not including the 21-year-old man who was found in Vernon.

Executive director Dale Miller is urging swimmers to be more careful and mindful when they get in the water.

“Know the water you’re going into, the depth of it, if there are rocks or logs underneath the surface, and know your own limits and don’t stretch them,” he said.

“Boaters are required to have properly fitting lifejackets or a personal flotation device onboard for each person. We, of course, encourage them to be wearing the lifejackets at all times.”

“When a situation occurs, it typically occurs very quickly and it’s impossible to quickly put on a lifejacket and be prepared.”

Miller added that young people should also be careful.

“Oftentimes, young people will stretch their limits and go beyond where they can safely swim or dive.

“Cliff diving, specifically, is a high-risk activity and unfortunately, some people don’t survive,” he said.

READ MORE: Alberta man’s body recovered from Okanagan Lake after five-day search

READ MORE: Lifesaving Society urges caution after two drownings in Central Okanagan

Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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