‘Gravestones’ Send Message to Turn the Tide on Drowning Deaths

Somber safety reminder marks National Drowning Prevention Week To mark National Drowning Prevention Week (July 16 – 23), the Lifesaving Society left a poignant reminder at English Bay beach that too many B.C. residents drown each year. Sixty-seven swimming kickboards (a floatation aid for learner-swimmers) were placed in rows, upright in the sand at English Bay to create ‘gravestones’. Each gravestone represents a life that was tragically lost in B.C. waters last year.

The words on the kickboard gravestones prompt people to ‘Learn how to swim. Swim to survive’, and directs them to lifesaving.bc.ca to find out more.

“Each summer we see a spike in the number of drowning deaths as families and groups head for the beach, lakes and swimming pools,” says Dale Miller, branch executive director of the Lifesaving Society. “As the first part of the gravestone message states, it’s vital everyone knows how to swim, that means swimming lessons for toddlers, kids, and adult non-swimmers.”

But people who can swim also make up a large percentage of the death toll. “Nobody’s immune to drowning,’ Miller continues. “Even strong swimmers can drown which is why the tombstone also states ‘Swim to survive’. Swim to Survive® teaches swimmers the essentials needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water - an important first step to being safe around water.” The Lifesaving Society partnered with advertising agency TAXI Vancouver who developed and executed the idea.

Photo credit: Ryan Semeniuk