A Quebec mother whose daughter drowned in a backyard pool is warning parents to be vigilant, saying it only took minutes for her toddler to wander outside and fall into the water.
Julie Dufault, 27, spoke out about the drowning death on Thursday of her toddler Marylou, hoping to spur other parents about pool security and water safety.
Dufault said the drowning happened "so fast" and cautioned parents about the need for constant supervision around water.
"It really doesn't take a lot of time," she told Radio-Canada. "Even if you go to the washroom, make sure [the pool] is secure and the door is locked."
Marylou, 2, died around noon after she fell into her family's backyard above-ground pool in St-Rémi, a small town on Montreal's South Shore.
The toddler was inside the house with her parents when she darted outside, and was found minutes later unconscious in the pool.
Family members started resuscitation attempts as an ambulance was dispatched to the house.
Marylou was taken to hospital where she was declared dead.
Access to the family's backyard is normally restricted, but Dufault said the patio door lock was broken.
"We were supposed to go get a new lock," she said." We always tell ourselves it will happen to others. This happened to us."
Dufault now believes CPR training — cardio-pulmonary resuscitation — should be mandatory in Quebec, and part of prenatal classes offered at hospitals.
François Dufault, the girl's uncle, urged homeowners to consider the responsibilities that come with a pool.
"Right away, secure your pool or don't buy one," he said.
The family plans to remove their above-ground pool in the near future.
Quebec has about 300,000 backyard pools, the highest number per capita in North America, according to the Royal Lifesaving Society.
Marylou's drowning was one of two pool deaths in Quebec on Thursday.
A two-year-old boy drowned in a backyard pool in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines just before 5 p.m.
He was found unconscious in the pool and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Police are still investigating what happened, but they believe the boy may have waited for a moment when the adults around him weren't looking to slip into the pool.
Terrebonne police Cpt. Sylvain Théorêt reminded parents to forbid their children from swimming alone.
"When we have young children we always try to explain to them that they really have to pay attention and wait for parents to be there, don't try to go to the pool," he said.
Quebec is seeing a spike in drownings this year. Eight children have drowned in 2012, six of them in backyard pools.
Forty-four people have drowned in the province since the start of the year, nearly double the number compared with 2011 figures.
The drownings prompted calls for mandatory water safety education for children.
Quebec's Liberal government recently announced it will implement a "swim to survive" program piloted in several schools two years ago.
The program targets children in Grade 3 and promotes basic swimming skills to survive a fall in deep water. It includes three one-hour lessons in which children learn how to roll into the water, tread water for 60 seconds and swim 50 metres.