Swim safety should be top of mind as warm weather arrives in Montreal: advocate

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The warm, summer-like weather this week means Montrealers will slowly be opening their backyard pools once again.

That has Adam Di Fulvio, the president of the Montreal Institute of Swimming, sharing his top safety tips and best practices.

“A is to always watch your kids. That means direct supervision, not distracted by phone, tablet or chores,” said Di Fulvio, who also heads the Canada Swim School.

“B is to be able to swim. Everyone should learn how to swim at the youngest age possible.

“And C is the checklist for backyard pools.”

Di Fulvio says that checklist of government regulations may vary from province to province. He shared the list of requirements for newly constructed pools in Quebec.

“At least a four-foot permanent fence around the pool with a self-closing, self-latching gate,” he said. “No equipment, obstacles or obstructions around the fence that kids could use to climb over.”

New regulations require existing pools to be up to code by 2025.

According to data from the Lifesaving Society, 82 Quebecers lost their lives by drowning in 2023 – up from 61 deaths in 2022.

“Fifteen per cent of all drownings occur in backyard pools and most of those occur to children,” Di Fulvio said.

Backyard swimming pool in Montreal in May 2024. (Anastasia Dextrene, CityNews)

He adds it’s not just backyard pools that can pose a danger, but natural bodies of water too.

“The main things you want to remember is to always wear life jackets to make sure you’re never swimming alone and to not consume alcohol, whether you’re at the beach or you’re open water swimming or you’re out on the boat.”

Di Fulvio explains there have been nine reported drownings in Quebec this year – down from 19 at the same time last year.

More than 80 per cent of drowning fatalities in Canada occur among men.

“If you are a man between 25 and 60 and you’re going swimming by yourself, you’ve had alcohol, you’re not wearing a life jacket, you’re maybe not a super strong swimmer, you need to be aware of the risks,” Di Fulvio said.

And for those looking to take a dip safely, lessons are recommended.

“Your local outdoor pools are great,” added the president of the Montreal Institute of Swimming. “Municipal pools, aquatic centres, there’s private swim schools and you can find classes for parents and tots.”

Swim goggles rest on the edge of a backyard swimming pool in Montreal in May 2024. (Anastasia Dextrene, CityNews)

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