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Calgary Police Service: Water Safety

With summer right around the corner, Calgarians will soon be looking to take their family activities outdoors. If your family is planning to go floating, boating, or kayaking down the Bow and Elbow rivers, or enjoy a community lake this summer, don’t forget that where there’s water, there’s risk.

Each year, the Calgary Police Service Marine Unit works with other partner agencies to remind citizens of water safety. This means wearing a life jacket or a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) at all times, not just having one close by.

Even experienced boaters can easily run into unexpected trouble, including:

  • Quick changes in water flow rate, direction, and currents

  • Unexpected weather changes

  • Faulty rafts, boats, or PFDs

  • Throughout the summer months, there will be ongoing efforts to maintain a high visibility uniform presence at various parks and pathways where rafters, boaters, and floaters start and finish their trips. It’s also required that any water vessel have life jackets or PFDs worn by all passengers at all times, a sounding device like a whistle, a buoyant heaving line (throw-bag) no less than 15 metres long, and a bailer.

In an effort to keep Calgary’s waterways family-friendly, it is also worth noting that police will enforce regulations around consuming and/or transporting of alcohol or drugs, which is dangerous and illegal.

The Calgary Police Service would like to remind those looking to have some fun on water this summer to:

  • Always make the safety of yourself and others a priority

  • Assess the swimming skills of those in your group

  • Always wear a life jacket - check the size and weight restrictions and ensure the life jacket fits properly

  • Plan ahead: check weather conditions, river flow rates, water quality reports and safety advisories

  • Bring the right supplies: a First-Aid kit, cell phone, bottled water, hats and sunscreen, a whistle or air horn, and a paddle to help you control your vessel

To learn more about staying safe on our waters this summer, visit

Steve Barlow is the interim Chief Constable of the Calgary Police Service.



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