EDITORIAL: Practise caution around the water

Tragedies recent and past highlight need to always consider safety first

Nothing beats the heat quite like taking a dip, whether it’s inching into the water up to your knees, taking a couple of cooling strokes or enjoying a full-blown invigorating swim.

And with no end in sight to our unseasonably hot summer, more and more people are taking the plunge this year.

The West Shore is blessed with a variety of lakes, water holes, pools and stretches of shoreline that entice locals and visitors alike.

At the risk of putting a damper on anyone’s idea of innocent fun, it’s important to remember that safety should always come first before you venture into or onto the water.

Two recent devastating accidents on Vancouver Island, one at Sproat Lake which claimed the life of a Langford man and the other which saw a young rugby player visiting from England drown in Shawnigan Lake, underscore the need to remind people of the potential for deadly consequences when playing in or on the water.

Thetis Lake, a favourite spot for people around the region to cool off or hike, sadly has seen six drownings since 2004.

Anyone there two years ago when a young foreign student drowned can still hear the cries of horrified friends unable to believe how fast the tragedy unfolded. Similarly, the case of a young Taiwanese student who died when she stumbled off a cliff, is a stark reminder that even being near the water can be enough to claim a life. And when a young man drowned trying to swim to the island in the middle of the lake nine years ago, the piercing wails of his grief-stricken friend echoed across the lake on a beautiful September day.

So please, be mindful that you can’t take too many precautions on or near the water, whatever the circumstances. And remember, alcohol and water conspire to form a deadly cocktail that always makes the raft appear to be closer or that dive from a cliff less daunting.

We encourage you to responsibly enjoy all the pleasures the water has to offer this summer. But please, take a few minutes while you’re checking your I-phone or waiting for the sunscreen to dry to wade over to redcross.ca for lifesaving advice in, on or around the water.