Preventing drowning

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

Safety measures to prevent drowning

Watch your children at all times

  • Never leave a child alone and unsupervised in or near a pool. Make sure you can see them at all times. If they are not within view, call or shout for them to come closer or to make sure they are not drowning.
  • While supervising your child, do not allow yourself to be distracted, for example by the phone or by someone else. In case of an emergency or if you have to move and are no longer able to keep an eye on your child, have them get out of 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.

If you see that a pool setup is dangerous and could lead to drowning, you can contact your municipality to report the situation.

Adopt safe behaviour

At 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 installation. To learn more about these standards, go to the Bureau de normalisation du Québec This hyperlink will open in a new window. website.
  • Do not drink alcohol before or during swimming activities.
  • After swimming, remove all objects and floating toys from the pool. This will prevent a child from accidently falling into the water while trying to reach them.

In natural bodies of water

  • Do not dive when the water is shallow
  • Before swimming, find out about the depth of the water and whether it is possible to swim safely.
  • Check the swimming area for hazards such as:
    • steep drop-offs;
    • excessive depth;
    • insufficient depth (making diving dangerous);
    • algae;
    • rocks, barriers or other submerged obstacles;
    • backwash or currents;
    • big waves breaking;
    • boating traffic.
  • While swimming, 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 about hazards that may exist around lakes, rivers, or other natural bodies of water.
  • Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device when swimming or when you are in a boat.

A few numbers on drowning in Québec

According to the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur:

  • between 2006 and 2015, an average of 73 people drowned each year;
  • between 2009 and 2015, an average of 48 people were hospitalized for non-fatal drownings each year.

In Québec, 10% of drownings occur in residential pools, while nearly 70% of them occur in natural bodies of water.

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

Useful links

Last update: June 13, 2023


Was the information on this page useful to you?
General notice

You have questions or require additional information?

Please contact Services Québec