With a new spike of drownings reported this summer, B.C.'s deadliest lake is officially Okanagan Lake. In the past, it's seen twice the number of fatalities as other bodies of water in the province. Experts attribute this to a number of reasons ranging from swimmers being intoxicated to people underestimating just how cold the water gets.

In an interview with local news outlet Castanet, Vernon Search and Rescue (SAR) search manager Coralie Nairn said, as of Monday, August 24, that six people have already died in the lake in 2020.

The BC Coroner's Office told 604 Now in 2018 that the lake held an average of 13.6 deaths per year, with the highest peak during the summer months. Almost 80% of those who died were male, the outlet reported, and the largest demographic of deaths were between the ages of 19 to 29.

Part of what makes the lake so dangerous, said Nairn, is people getting intoxicated and sometimes overestimating their own abilities. Most of the deaths that happened this year involved cliff jumping or "recreational watercraft."

The Coroner's Office data agrees, citing that alcohol or drugs lead to roughly 40% of fatalities.

The shape of the pond itself may lead to accidents. According to Kelowna Now, the lake was carved out by glacial movements over the years and therefore has a very uneven depth. Some spots are 10 metres deep, while another might sink to below 100 metres.

According to Nairn, the water can also be a lot colder than what many people expect.

"You jump into the water and it’s cold or you hit a cold pocket, and you aspirate," she said. "You have that shock value where you take a deep breath and of course when you just breathe in water and it’s an instant drowning, so that is very common."

Despite its reputation as B.C.'s deadliest lake, however, it's also one of the most popular in the region. With over 30 scenic beaches, it's not hard to imagine why.

So if you're about to hit the lake this summer, be careful in the water — it's more dangerous than you think.

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