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BC RCMP’s Underwater Recovery Team reminding British Columbians to swim safely

The BC RCMP is reminding you to stay safe when it comes to the warm summer weather and water activities. 

The Underwater Recovery Team (URT), who is tasked with recovering drowning victims, says despite the COVID-19 pandemic, it has seen an increase in drownings in recent months.

“It is thought that people are travelling further into the wilderness given that many of the usual recreational areas have been closed,” said Sergeant Steven Pebernat, Underwater Recovery Team Diving Coordinator.

“What we are seeing a lot of this year in particular, is individuals who are not familiar with BC’s waters getting themselves into precarious and consequential situations by not taking safety precautions and not being informed of the water conditions or their abilities.”

Pebernat says the unfortunate part, is that many of these deaths are preventable.

The URT says it has also seen a steady increase of new Canadians or foreign nationals that have passed away in BC’s waters.

The URT would like to remind people that the water in British Columbia can be cold, and many creeks and rivers have strong currents, which is why it is important to always research and plan ahead, let someone know where you are going, and bring necessary equipment to navigate BC waters.

Some helpful reminders from the team to help you stay safe this summer include:

  • Always swimming with a buddy
  • Don’t leave children unsupervised. Drowning can occur in as little as 10 seconds.
  • If you can’t swim, wear a lifejacket or PFD at all times.
  • Stay alert! Observe the conditions closely before you step out onto the shoreline and keep an eye on incoming waves.
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