Man drowns in Cape Canal; how to avoid dangerous situations

CREATED Nov 2, 2013 - UPDATED: Nov 2, 2013

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CAPE CORAL, Fla. - An elderly man and his wife visiting Cape Coral found themselves in a fatal situation Friday when the husband fell into a canal, drowning minutes later. With so many canals in the city, anyone could find themselves in a similar situation. Jim Zuk tells Fox 4 that living on a canal warrants extra precaution.

"Its a concern, especially with kids. You know, we have three kids under the age of 10. So its like having another hazard, its like living on a main road, but its in the backyard."

His three children have grown up on the canal, so he says he understands the risks

"They do some things like a safety fence with the pool, and stuff like that. Theres no real safety fence for a canal, and thats why you have to be more aware of it"

But children aren't the only ones at risk. Captain Michael Heeder with the Cape Coral Fire Department says an elderly couple found themselves in this very dangerous situation.

"After treading water for a few minutes, he became unresponsive... slipped below the surface of the water."

The husband didn't make it. The wife was helped out of the canal, and taken to the hospital for minor injuries. 

"The canals will actually narrow in, and as a result the current moving through those areas becomes a lot stronger. Its like an undertoe out in the ocean; you don't know your in it until its too late"

Captain Heeder says the best thing to do is keep calm, but act quickly.

"Call 9-1-1. Every emergency vehicle in the Cape Coral Fire Department has trained rescue swimmers, and we have dive equipment on every fire engine and ladder truck. So the sooner we get there, the sooner we can affect a rescue"

For more information from the Cape Coral Fire Department about how to stay safe in Southwest Florida, click on the Big Red Four at the top of the page.