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AHS: Simple tips to enjoy recreational water activities safely

Know the risks of injury or illness when swimming, especially in unmonitored bodies of water
Alberta Health Services is reminding Albertans to follow recreational water safety advice. (Stock image/Metro Creative Connection)

With the warmer weather, Alberta Health Services is reminding Albertans to follow recreational water advice to enjoy the outdoors safely.

Prior to leaving home, check the air quality, humidity and for any forecasted heat warnings.

There is always a risk of injury when swimming, especially in unmonitored bodies of water. Here are a few ways you can prevent water-related injuries and illness:

• Wear a Canadian-approved life-jacket or personal flotation device in a boat and make sure it fits.

• Young children should wear life-jackets when they are in, on or around the water. Stay right beside your child and be aware of fast-moving water.

• Swim with others when there is no lifeguard present and be cautious in open water.

• Avoid alcohol, cannabis and any other substance that may affect your judgment before and during water activities.

• For more information about water safety and preventing injuries, visit Learning About Water Safety ( or Healthy Parents Healthy Children.

Lakes, rivers and streams may also contain disease-causing microorganisms or parasites that can cause allergic reactions (swimmers’ itch). Not all beaches are monitored for biological, chemical, and physical hazards.

Check cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) advisories by visiting Active Health Advisories, Alberta Health Services, or look for posted advisory signs at public beaches.

Reduce your chance of getting swimmers’ itch by:

• Drying yourself with a towel as soon as you leave the water.

• Avoiding beaches where swimmers’ itch is a problem.

• Washing your hands and rinsing your body off after swimming or wading in lakes, streams or rivers.

• Not wading or swimming in areas with weeds.

Know your options so you can get the right care when you need it. Health Link at 811 provides 24/7 health advice and information.

There are other options such as your family doctor, ambulatory care and family care clinics, walk-in clinics and your local pharmacy. Visit for more info. For emergencies, visit your nearest local emergency department or call 911.