With summer here, people are now spending more time outdoors and planning recreational activity at lakes and rivers throughout Alberta. Alongside the fun and health benefits of these activities, the Alberta RCMP reminds 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 top of mind in the months ahead. Since 2016, a total of 89 people have drowned in Alberta, with 80% of the drowning fatalities having occurred in a lake or river.
The Alberta RCMP recommends essential safety practices on the water:
- Clarity is safety - Never operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which is illegal and punishable under the Criminal Code. Impairment will also affect a person's motor ability, judgement, and reaction time.
- 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. 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 life jackets or personal flotation devices 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 or extreme sun which can cause fatigue and disorientation.
- Prepare your boat - Before heading out on the water, boaters should make sure their boat is equipped with mandatory boat safety equipment such as life jackets, signalling 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 we have seen over the years have been as a result of fatigue and being too far from shore. If you cannot swim, stay out of the water and seek the shade instead.
Public safety is a top priority for Alberta RCMP and water safety is a shared responsibility. By practicing safe boating and swimming, Albertans can help reduce the number of fatalities caused by drowning this summer. For more tips for water safety practice, view our YouTube channel video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjVxiA6maIQ.