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Drownings on Canadian Farms and Ranches

Updated July 2008

Between 1990 and 2004, 62 people were killed in drowning events on farms and ranches. Ten of these victims drowned in vehicles or machines as a result of a collision with a water hazard. From April 1990 to March 2000 an additional eight people were hospitalized for near drownings. 87.5% were children under age five. One reason for the small hospitalization numbers is that drowning victims are rarely found early enough for resuscitation. Drownings on farms and ranches represent 29.6% of all non-work related agricultural fatalities in Canada.

Typically, children wander off while their parents are doing agricultural chores, then drown in a nearby dugout, trough, pond or manure lagoon. From 1990 to 2004, 21 children under age five drowned on farms and ranches because they fell into a water hazard or manure lagoon, usually while their parents were otherwise engaged in work tasks. 85.7% of these preschool drowning victims were male. There were three cases of multiple drownings involving children, where siblings had drowned trying to rescue one another.

Most drownings occurred in man-made agricultural hazards such as dugouts, irrigation ponds, manure lagoons and wells. Fencing these hazardous to limit unsupervised access could prevent many drownings on farms and ranches.

Liz Crouse, a Nova Scotia collaborator for The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting states that, “Children must not be left unattended anywhere near agricultural water hazards or manure lagoons. The use of fenced play areas for children under six would have prevented most of these drownings.”

This information is derived from data collected and analyzed by Canadian Agricultural Injury Surveillance Program collaborators and staff. CAIR is funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and managed in cooperation with the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association.

For more information contact:
Dr. Rob Brison (via Deb Emerton),
The Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting,
Department of Emergency Medicine, Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario K7L 2V7
Tel: (613) 548-2389 Fax (613) 548-1381
Email: CAIR@kgh.kari.net www.CAIR.ca