Following the drowning of a 15-year-old boy at Kidston Lake in Spryfield on Thursday, the dangers that can arise while swimming is a topic on the minds of many Maritimers – but what can people do to avoid tragedy while spending a sunny day at the lake or a beautiful beach?

Many parents say being vigilant and supervising young children is the key to ensuring safety while swimming. Safety experts agree keeping an eye on younger people is a great first step, but say there are even more measures individuals can take to protect both themselves and others.  

"If you're in, on or around the water and you're a poor swimmer, wear a life jacket or PFD – you never know when you might end up in the water," says Paul D'Eon from the Life Saving Society of Nova Scotia. "Alcohol and aquatics don't mix, so have your drinks after the aquatics activity and watch your kids, not your phone."

D'Eon stresses the importance of remaining alert during outings at lakes and beaches – saying it's easy to be distracted by technology or even a book. He notes that it only takes a few centimetres of water for someone to drown, and suggests people stay cognizant of their surroundings and the people around them by putting away distractions.

"It ends up in a tragedy, "he says. "So don't take unnecessary risks is the message."  

Meanwhile, Jason Lapierre from the Canadian Red Cross says it is best to swim at supervised beaches or pools when lifeguards are on duty.

"You're out of your element when you're in the water," says Lapierre. "It's a different place, and you don't have the same control as being on land, and you can't always see what's on the bottom. It's always important to remember that there are hidden dangers that you can't see and you have to pay attention to that and be cognizant of that at all times."

Lapierre says diving headfirst into unknown water or water that could be shallow are examples of unsafe swimming practices. He also notes swimmers should not rely on pool toys to stay afloat, mentioning the Canadian Red Cross offers a free personal floatation device program to anyone who needs them.

"It's important that at the end of the day everyone who arrives at the beach leaves from the beach and leaves the way they came," says Lapierre.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau