Throughout Canada, many Canadians flock to local beaches in the summer. Swimming is one of the leading activities associated with drowning deaths and injuries. Those bathers who choose to swim at public or private beaches have an expectation that these waterfronts are safe. The Waterfront Safety Standards provide beach owners and operators with the standards and tools to meet this expectation.
What is considered a Waterfront?
A Waterfront means an aquatic facility composed of a water area designated for swimming, the associated beach area of the shoreline and any associated structures such as washrooms and change rooms. The facility may be located on a natural water body such as a lake or a similar artificial water body such as a man-made lake. The waterfront may be a public facility open to the general public or a private facility whose use is restricted to registered guests, customers, owners, tenants and their guests.
Waterfronts can be unsupervised - a public or private waterfront which is not supervising by lifeguards - or supervised - a public or private waterfront which is supervised by lifeguards.
Over a 10 year period from 1991 to 2000, 2,224 people drowned in natural lakes and ponds, and artificial waterbodies such as reservoirs, retention ponds and artificial lakes. Recreational swimming in these waterbodies claimed the lives of over 300 Canadians and many more people were injured and needed medical attention. Some of these deaths and injuries occurred at waterfront facilities.
More than 99% of drownings occur in aquatic environments without lifeguard supervision. It is essential that a decision to not supervise a waterfront be well considered. Anywhere there are high volumes of swimmers, deep waters or unique hazards, a lifeguard's supervision will surely save lives.
Waterfronts are used by a variety of groups within the community. At a Supervised Waterfront, lifeguards are present to provide safety supervision and educate the public about how to enjoy the waterfront safely and how to protect themselves in, on, and around water. At unsupervised waterfronts, patrons are responsible for providing for their own safety. Owners of unsupervised waterfronts must make every effort to identify potential hazards and take effective steps to protect bathers from injury.
The Waterfront Safety Standards addresses both private beaches and public waterfront facilities which are either supervised or unsupervised. The document provides waterfront (beach) owners/operators with clear standards for the safe operation of waterfronts. The Lifesaving Society encourages owners/operators to review their safety and risk management practices in respect to the Waterfront Safety Standards.
Download your copy of the Waterfront Safety Standards free of charge!