Photo courtesy Lifesaving Society – Saskatchewan Branch on Twitter

A lifesaving group is traveling the north offering classes this summer, as part of its wider effort to prevent drownings.

The CEO of the Saskatchewan branch of the Lifesaving Society Canada says statistics show just how important it is to concentrate effort on northern Saskatchewan.

“There is a higher number of drownings in northern Saskatchewan as opposed to southern Saskatchewan,” said CEO Shelby Rushton.

The number of bodies of water and lack of access to swimming lessons are a few of the factors at play, she said. Nearly two-thirds of all drowning deaths in the province in the last five years happened in large bodies of water, according to the society’s 2016 Drowning Report.

The need for solutions hasn’t fallen onto deaf ears at the society.

Rushton said for the past 19 years, they’ve had summer students deliver classes.

The swimming lessons, pleasure craft certification and first aid training were offered in Lac La Ronge and Air Ronge earlier this month, and are in Patuanak next week.

More than 6,000 people have gone through these lessons over the years, and it’s a rewarding effort for Rushton.

“We have people saying ‘yeah, my kids took lessons and now we don’t have to worry as much,’ ‘I got to save my friends or my cousin because I took training. Those are great successes for us. And also the fact that people also want to take our higher training and become lifeguards and instructors,” she said.

Over the years, the drowning stats have reduced in northern Saskatchewan.

The annual drowning report has plenty of statistics for the past five years that can lead to precautions like wearing a personal flotation device or to refrain from drinking and boating.

Overall, 84 percent of all drowning deaths in the province are male.

This year, there have been at least two deaths in the water: one man who was scuba diving in the Buffalo Narrows area and another man who was swimming at Katepwa Lake.