By Cole Parkinson
The Municipal District of Taber is proclaiming this coming week of July 21-27 as the National Drowning Prevention Week.
In a letter addressed to council, the Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch asked for council to do so in order to raise awareness for drowning prevention.
Council had a chance to discuss how they wanted to proceed at their regular meeting on June 11.
“On behalf of the Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch, I am writing to ask that you proclaim July 21-27, 2019 as National Drowning Prevention Week in your municipality. The Lifesaving Society designates the third week in July as National Drowning Prevention Week (NDPW) to focus community and media attention on the drowning problem and drowning prevention,” stated the letter from Julianna Matson, Drowning Prevention Coordinator.
Messages for this year’s prevention week include if you’re not within arms’ reach, you’ve gone too far, always supervise children, boat sober (alcohol consumption is a factor in almost 40 per cent of boating-related fatalities), always wear a lifejacket (lifejackets don’t work if you don’t wear them. Not wearing a Lifejacket or PFD was a factor in 88 per cent of boating deaths).
“With all the irrigation districts we have, I’m not so sure some awareness is a bad thing,” said Coun. Brian Brewin. “It would be nice to get together with the irrigation districts and do this properly.”
Council was in favour of including Taber Irrigation District, St. Mary River Irrigation District and Bow River Irrigation District in their week-long campaign.
“There aren’t as many open ditches as there used to be but there are great big canals that people use when it is 30 degrees,” added Reeve Merrill Harris.
Council discussed having different presentations to highlight the dangers of swimming in canals and ditches in the summer.
Promotion of websites and in local papers were also talked about as ways to promote the National Drowning Prevention Week.
“I think if we do it, we need to put action to it as well,” said Coun. Jen Crowson.
In terms of who the campaign would be aimed toward, council had a few different ideas.
“I wonder if it is something we should be pushing into schools at a certain grade level,” said Coun. John Turcato.
“Most schools do, at least in Vauxhall do,” added Crowson.
Another demographic pointed to by council included the Hutterite population.
“It would be nice to involve the colonies too,” said Brewin.
With shorter notice, council wasn’t entirely sure if all of their ideas would be manageable for this year.
With that being said, they were in favour of proclaiming the prevention week nonetheless.
“I guess we could proclaim it (for this year) but maybe in future years, we can try to do more,” continued Brewin. “I don’t know if we have enough time this year.”
A motion was made to proclaim July 21-27 as National Drowning Prevention week in the M.D. of Taber and to send letters to the three irrigation districts, and was carried unanimously by council. Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga was absent from the meeting.