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Friends of three missing men sit on the shore at Moon River Falls, in Ontario, Monday August 3, 2009.

An increase in drownings nationwide this year has safety officials urging boaters and swimmers to wear life jackets and take more care in and around water.

Some 205 people have drowned in Canada since January, the Lifesaving Society said Monday. That's 25 more people than the same time period last year.

Quebec has had the largest increase, with 16 more people drowned so far this year, the society said. In British Columbia, the number has gone up by 11, and three more people have drowned in Ontario.

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One possible explanation is that more people are swimming due to recent heat waves in Ontario and Quebec, said society spokeswoman Barbara Byers.

"The last two weeks of July and the first week of August are peak times, because most people are taking their holidays and it's the nicest weather," Ms. Byers said.

The most recent death is Andrew Wedzinga, 54. His body was found on Monday afternoon on Ontario's Lake Nipissing. He was not wearing a life jacket when he was involved in a boating accident on Saturday. His wife, who was wearing a life jacket, was rescued.

"Most people who drown in Canada are adult men. They're swimming or they're boating in lakes," said Ms. Byers, explaining that the majority of victims are not wearing life jackets, and about one in four have been drinking alcohol.

There have been many other drowning incidents across the country in the past few days. In a sad irony, this is National Drowning Prevention week.



A two-year-old boy who was found on the shoreline near a waterfront property on Ontario's Balsam Lake died on Sunday.

Two children and an adult drowned off the coast of Newfoundland on Sunday in a boating mishap. On Monday, crews were still searching at sea for a man who was with them.

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A 17-year-old international student from China drowned in Squamish, B.C., on Saturday, and a two-year-old girl drowned in a backyard swimming pool in north Toronto on Saturday.

Last week, four-year-old Avery Pringle was swept away and drowned in the Otonabee River near Peterborough, Ont.

Parents should teach their kids to swim, and take precautions for those who have not yet learned, Ms. Byers said.

"Most of these are preventable, they really are, unless you have an underlying medical condition," Ms. Byers said, adding that fences around pools can help prevent toddlers from drowning.

"Put a life-jacket on non-swimmers or toddlers because it's an extra layer of protection."

Ontario Provincial Police Constable Mark Boileau, who is investigating the death of the boy at Balsam Lake, said parents should keep a close eye on their children around water.

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"It's just tragic as a police officer and parent, you just have to remind yourself to be more vigilant and watch [kids]closely," he said, suggesting that parents consult the Lifesaving Society and Red Cross websites for water-safety tips.

Meanwhile, police in Oshawa, Ont., are crediting witnesses with helping to save an 11-year-old boy who nearly drowned in Lake Ontario on Sunday.

Police say the witnesses ran to find nearby police officers, who rescued the boy. A doctor and paramedic happened to be nearby to give him medical assistance. He is expected to make a full recovery.

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