BARRIE, ONT. -- The Lifesaving Society believes pandemic restrictions may be a factor in an upward trend in drownings.

Public Education Director Barbara Byers says the society has tracked 42 drownings in the province so far in 2021, with preliminary information on two more. The number of drownings is close to where it was this point in 2020, but up over their pre-pandemic levels.

"There are fewer places to go swimming where lifeguards are working because all indoor pools were closed," said Byers.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing, and more amenities open, Byers recommends swimmers choose a spot where someone is watching over them.

"Especially if you're a family with non-swimmers...go where the life guards are working, whether it's the beach, whether it's a pool. And be in the safest place you can."

As Drowning Prevention Week begins, Byers says parents need to keep in mind that drowning can happen quickly and silently, so children should never be out of arm's reach near water.

She also encourages non-swimmers to wear life jackets around the water, even if they don't plan to get in.