Aquatic and nautical activities are very popular in Québec, which has about 300,000 residential swimming pools and over a million boating enthusiasts. However, people who engage in these activities must respect certain safety measures in order to avoid the risk of drowning.

Limit access to pool

  • Make sure you limit access to the pool by setting up the space in a safe manner
    • In-ground pools and semi in-ground pools: Install a fence that is impossible to climb. It must be at least 1.2 m tall around the pool in order to completely separate it from the grounds and the house
    • Above-ground pools: Rules differ depending on whether or not the pool is attached to a raised structure such as a patio or a terrace
      • Above-ground pools not attached to a raised structure: You do not have to enclose the pool if its walls are 1.2 m high, as they then serve as fencing.
        However, you must install a fence that is at least 1.2 m tall around the pool if its walls are less than 1.2 m high
      • Above-ground pools  attached to a raised structure: You must install a fence that is at least 1.2 m tall around the elevated structure
    • Inflatable pools: Install a fence that is at least 1.2 m tall around the pool, otherwise empty the pool after each usage
  • Install water filtration and heating systems more than a meter away from the edge of an above-ground pool. This way, no one can climb on them to get into the pool
  • Make sure that the opening of the fence or the gate leading to the pool is equipped with a safety device. The device must ensure the closing and automatic locking of the gate
  • Verify regularly that the gate’s locking mechanism works well. Make sure the gate closes by itself immediately after each usage

    Example of a safety device that ensures automatic closing and locking of gate

  • When a ladder gives access to a pool, it must be removable after swimming and when the pool is not used. Make sure that the moveable ladder giving access to the pool is equipped with a safety door that closes and locks automatically to prevent children from using it

Watch your children at all times

  • Never leave your children alone and without supervision in or near a pool. Make sure you can see them at all times. If they leave your field of vision, call or shout for them to come closer or to make sure they are not drowning
  • While supervising children, do not allow yourself to be distracted, by the phone or by someone else for instance. In case of an emergency, or if you have to move and are no longer able to keep an eye on the children, remove them from the pool and take them with you

The fact that your children know how to swim or have taken swimming lessons is not enough to avoid all risk of drowning. Supervising children when they are swimming is therefore essential at all times.

Adopt safe behaviour

By the pool

  • Do not dive into above-ground pools because they are not deep enough
  • Before diving into an in-ground pool, check with the owner to see if the diving board and pool meet the minimum safety standards for such installations. To learn more about these standards, go to the Bureau de normalisation du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window. website.
  • After swimming, remove all objects and floating toys from the pool in order to prevent children from accidently falling into the water while trying to reach them

In natural bodies of water

  • Do not dive when the water is not deep
  • Before bathing, find out about the depth of the water and whether it is possible to bathe safely
  • While bathing, always keep an eye on the depth of the water. It can be uneven and vary suddenly, even close to shore
  • Observe safety instructions and warnings regarding hazards that may exist in the vicinity of lakes, rivers, or other natural bodies of water
  • Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device when bathing or when you are in a boat

A few numbers on drowning in Québec

The Institut national de santé publique du Québec indicates:

  • that each year between 2007 and 2013, on average, 73 people drowned
  • that each year between 2011 and 2016, on average, 42 people were hospitalized after almost having drowned

One drowning on 10 occurs in a swimming pool, while nearly three quarters of drownings occur in natural bodies of water.

People of all age groups can drown. However, drowning is the leading cause of death in children aged 1 to 4 years old. Most often, children drown in residential pools after accidentally falling into the water when no adult is supervising them.