Canada News

Get the latest new in Candada


50 water rescues in 2 weeks have Calgary first responders urging caution

It’s only two weeks into July, but Calgary’s first responders are putting out another safety warning after responding to roughly 50 water rescues this month alone.

Police and firefighters were called out around 5:50 a.m. on Tuesday for reports of a body in the Bow River near the Graves Bridge.

The body was recovered around 8 a.m. and no further details are being released at this time.

A water rescue took place around 1:25 p.m. on Tuesday when a girl fell into the Bow River while rafting with her parents near the southeast community of Douglasdale.

Fire crews were able to rescue her after she floated to a nearby island.

“Thankfully, she was wearing a life-jacket, which not everyone is and if you look out on the water, there are people who are not wearing them properly,” said Carol Henke, public information officer with the Calgary Fire Department.

“If you flip your raft, that life-jacket can easily fall off, so it really needs to be done up appropriately and it needs to be a life-jacket that’s right for our size and weight.”

Henke says people shouldn’t treat areas like Harvie Passage as a “lazy river or a water park.”

“Where there’s water, there’s risk,” she said.

Whether Calgarians are swimming or rafting, Henke says they should be aware of their surroundings.

“We are seeing that a lot of people aren’t as prepared as they should be and one of the main reasons we have to perform a lot of rescues is that people are not using the appropriate types of craft,” she said.

“People are going to department stores and picking up rafts and floatation devices that are not meant for an urban wilderness area that has swift water, especially in the Bow River where there’s tons of rocks, debris and fallen trees.”

Meanwhile, Alberta RCMP continue to investigate a drowning on Saturday afternoon at Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country.

An autopsy was expected on Tuesday.

According to recent provincial data from the Office of The Chief Medical Examiner, there were 605 drowning deaths reported in Alberta between 2010 and 2023.

A total of 202 drowning deaths occurred in the past four years:

  • 2020 – 49
  • 2021 – 69
  • 2022 – 52
  • 2023 – 32

Those numbers do not include homicides and 159 of the deaths were deemed accidental.

“Anyone can drown but no one should,” said Madison Lalonde, director of public education with Lifesaving Society Alberta.

“In Alberta, specifically from 2015 to 2019, 100 per cent of fatal drownings that occurred in children under five years old were due to a lack of supervision or distracted supervision.”

Lalonde says this kind of messaging is extremely important ahead of National Drowning Prevention Week, which begins on July 25.

She says risk factors for drowning include not wearing a life-jacket, alcohol consumption, going into a body of water alone and being a weak swimmer.

“The theme for this year is that seconds can save a life, so make sure you’re paying attention, that your children are within arm’s reach, that you’re not out there alone. Make prevention a priority this summer,” she said.

The Lifesaving Society’s recent report says more than half of the drowning deaths in the province occur between May and September and that 75 per cent of victims were male.

There are also 158 non-fatal emergency department visits per year on average, according to the report.

Rafting company emphasizes safety

Lazy Day Raft Rentals says it’s been sold out for the past week due to extremely hot temperatures and high demand during the Calgary Stampede.

“We have up to 160 of our rafts on the water and we’re here from 5 a.m. getting ready so people can get on the water,” said Damon Ta, manager of the West Baker location.

“But every time we send a group out, we always go through all the safety details. The most important is checking if they have paddle experience and spending a bit more time to teach them, so they can avoid hazards.”

Hazards on the water include bridge pillars, rocks and fallen trees.

“These are really dangerous places on the Bow River, so we always emphasize how strong the currents are and how easy it is to capsize,” Ta said.

“Additionally, tying rafts together is a huge danger, so we tell every person that it’s never OK, especially if you have children.”

That kind of messaging is extremely important to people like Noelle Boyhan, who was out rafting with her nephew on Tuesday.

“You can never control where the water is going to go, so you kind of have to be almost prepared to fall into it, so making sure you have the right equipment like proper footwear and a life-jacket is really essential,” Boyhan said. 

View original article here Source