01/06/2014 12:30 EST | Updated 03/08/2014 05:59 EST

Drowning deaths in Quebec at 23-year low

A dramatic reduction in drowning deaths in 2013 in Quebec has made last year the least-deadly year since 1990.

Fifty people drowned in 2013, says the Quebec Lifesaving Society in a report published Monday — half the average of the past 20 years.

The number of drowning deaths has been steadily declining since the 1996 high of 152 deaths; since 2000, there has been a 34.2 per cent decrease.

Raynald Hawkins, director-general of the Lifesaving Society, said part of the reduction may be due to lower-than-average temperatures last June, but that's not the only reason.

He said efforts to make Quebecers aware of the dangers of drowning have had a positive impact on saving lives. Hawkins said his organization’s prevention mission has helped change the behaviour of people engaging in swimming and boating activities.

Some details from the report:

- The number of deaths is down from 2012’s 75.

- Seven people died in the Saguenay/Lac-St-Jean region, making it the most affected area of the province.

- Nine people in the 18-24 age range and 10 people between the ages of 55 and 64 died in 2013.

- Open-water swimming, as well as motorboat and fishing boat activities, resulted in the most deaths with eight per category.

In 2010, Quebec ushered in strict new rules for swimming pools. One of the major components of the new law requires that pools be encircled by a 1.2-metre-high fence to restrict access. 

The Lifesaving Society also reports that it is the recipient of a Canadian Safe Boating Award for its media campaign promoting the wearing of life vests.