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More than 100 people died in B.C. of accidental drowning last year: coroners data

Okanagan Lake is seen in this undated image. (Shutterstock) Okanagan Lake is seen in this undated image. (Shutterstock)
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More than 100 people died of accidental drowning in B.C. last year, with incidents most common in summer months, data from the provincial coroner shows.

The B.C. Coroners Service released 2023 data Tuesday, which revealed 101 people died by accidental drowning. Eighteen of those incidents happened in July, prompting a warning from officials.

"Our report looked at a 10-year period between 2013 and 2023, and we can see there is a higher percentage of drownings in the province during the months of May through August," said John McNamee, acting chief coroner of B.C. Coroners Service, in a statement. "Our report gives great clarity to the many dangers that water can hold. In 2023, just seven of those who died were not from B.C., so we hope both residents and visitors will take extra steps to enjoy water-based activities safely."

Most accidental drownings happened in rivers, creeks, lakes and ponds, the coroner's data showed. About one-in-five deaths happened while the person was boating. Four-in-five accidental drownings were men.

Residents and visitors are urged to keep children within arm's reach and never leave kids and non-swimmers unsupervised at the beach.

The B.C. Coroners Service said alcohol- and drug-related data isn't available yet for 2023, but alcohol or drugs were contributing factors in 39 per cent of accidental drownings between 2013 and 2022. 

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