With summer here, people are spending more time outdoors and planning recreational activity at lakes and rivers throughout Alberta. Although these activities are fun and have plenty of health benefits, the Alberta RCMP is reminding Albertans that there is also always a risk of injury, accidents, and drownings.
Whether operating a boat, canoe, watercraft or participating in activities like tubing or swimming, it is important to keep water safety in mind in the months ahead.
Since 2016 a total of 89 people have drowned in Alberta, with 80 per cent of the drowning fatalities having occurred in a lake or river.
Alberta RCMP recommends essential safety practices on the water:
• Clarity is safety: Never operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; impairment will affect a person’s motor ability, judgment, and reaction time. Doing so is punishable under the Criminal Code.
• Check the weather: Always check the weather forecasts and reports before going on or in the water. Changing weather conditions can be extremely dangerous while on the water. Make sure you continue to monitor weather conditions for the duration of your water activity.
• Share your plans: Know the area you will be in and share your itinerary with someone so that if there is an emergency you can be located quickly.
• Dress to protect: Boaters, tubers, and swimmers should wear lifejackets or personal floatation devices (PFD) when on the water. Tubers should wear a helmet. Wearing a life jacket or PFD is the best defense for surviving cold-water shock and hypothermia. Dress appropriately for cool weather and extreme sun which can cause fatigue and disorientation.
• Prepare your boat: Before heading out on the water, boaters should make sure their oat is equipped with mandatory boat safety equipment such as life jackets, signaling devices, and bailing containers. Always bring emergency supplies like extra food, water, clothes, and a cell phone.
• Know your limits: Be self-aware and don’t push your physical limits when playing or engaging in water. Many drowning instances that have occurred over the years are a result of swimmer fatigue and being too far from shore. If you cannot swim, stay out of the water and seek the shade instead.
By practicing safe boating and swimming, Albertans can help reduce the number of fatalities caused by drowning this summer.