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Donut rely on that trendy floatie to keep you safe in the water

Image of a donut floatie
Whether it's a donut, diamond ring, or a unicorn, photogenic floaties are best suited to strong swimmers. That's because they're no substitute for personal flotation devices (PFDs) when it comes to water safety.

From the lazy river to the lake, know how to stay safe when you're near the water in B.C.

Donuts, pizza, flamingos, diamond rings and unicorns – sounds like the makings of a great party. Or maybe just a great picture.

Seems like these days, everyone is heading to the pool, the lake, or the nearest lazy river ready to relax on a trendy pool float and snap a photo or two for Instagram.

But while those trendy floaties should make your highlight reel, you shouldn't ever rely on them to keep you safe.

That's because pool floats, inflatable rafts, and even children's water wings are not safety devices. They might take the effort out of swimming, but not the risk.

The bottom line? If you're not a strong swimmer, you shouldn't be near the water – let alone in it – without a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD).

The same goes for children and toddlers. Don't rely on the water wings that we all used when learning to swim. Many experts say that they can be dangerous; kids can learn to rely on them, get stuck, and the wings can slip off.

Drowning victims often never intend to go in the water

The Lifesaving Society, which just wrapped up its Drowning Prevention Week, share a few sobering facts when it comes to water safety:

  • In most drownings, the victim never intended to go in the water and was often close to safety; usually within 10 metres of shore. Remember that your unicorn or donut of choice doesn't equal safety. You can easily slip off your float and it can quickly move beyond reach, leaving you or a loved one in far deeper water than you intended.
  • Alcohol or cannabis can be a huge factor in water safety. The Lifesaving Society says that almost 40% of boating-related fatalities involved alcohol. Stay sober when in, on or around the water. A reminder if you're visiting a BC Hydro recreation area: alcohol and drug use are prohibited on all our properties.
  • Children should always remain within reach – not just within sight. And don't forget to ensure they're wearing a lifejacket or PFD.

A few more water safety tips: cold water, PFDs

While the warm weather does increase water temperatures across the province, chances are it doesn't increase them as much as you might think. Some of our most popular recreation areas, including those in the Lower Mainland, are very cold year-round.

Cold water reduces body heat 25 times faster than air does at the same temperature. Buntzen Lake, in Anmore, is cold enough to threaten your survival. Wearing your PFD increases your survival time if you run into trouble in the water.

And speaking of PFDs: making sure they fit properly is key. You won't just be more comfortable – a good fit is what ensures you will stay afloat as intended if you need to rely on it.

Check out this guide from Mountain Equipment Co-op for tips on choosing the right one for everyone in your group. A reminder that everyone in a canoe needs to wear one – and they're a good idea other times too.