Partners in Water Safety remind Calgarians of risks on lakes and still bodies of water
Since 2014, three people have drowned in Calgary community lakes. Often regarded as low-risk compared to fast-moving rivers, lakes and still bodies of water can pose a serious threat to recreational users. To remind Calgarians of the dangers associated with all bodies of water, Partners in Water Safety—which includes the Calgary Fire Department (CFD), the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and Community Standards—held a media event on Thursday, June 29 in the busy community of Lake Chaparral.
“Lakes are often perceived as harmless, so users are less likely to take the same safety precautions as they would on the river,” said Fire Chief Steve Dongworth, noting that many Calgary lake communities have had to grieve a drowning at some point. “We want everyone to remember where there’s water, there’s risk, and to be vigilant when using any body of water for recreational activities.”
To show viewers the potential consequences of unsafe behaviours on the water, CFD’s Aquatics team performed a mannequin rescue demonstration. Junior Fire Chief Oliver Hamilton was also on-hand to share water safety tips with children who plan to venture onto the water with their families this summer.
Partners from CPS and Community Standards encouraged the lake users in attendance to be accountable for their own safety—especially in the absence of enforcement on private lakes.
“Too often, we observe families with either just the children or the parents wearing life jackets; this is unsafe behaviour,” said Susan Wall, Calgary Community Standards Inspector on the City’s limited reach on private bodies of water. “In accordance with bylaw, every individual on a boat or floatation device must be wearing a life jacket or PFD, regardless of where they are.”
For CPS, deaths and near drowning highlight the importance of avoiding drugs and alcohol on all bodies of water.
“Impairment by drugs or alcohol is dangerous no matter what type of water you are on,” said CPS Staff Sergeant Clare Smart. “Substances are prohibited at most private and public bodies of water because of this very real danger.”
For many communities, lakes serve as a gathering point for family and friends. However, without Police and Community Peace Officers—and often lifeguards—a fun day on the lake can turn tragic very quickly.
Chief Dongworth urges all water users to observe posted safety guidelines, respect community association rules and learn to swim.
“Even still bodies of water can be unpredictable,” Dongworth said. “Be prepared and protect yourself and your family in lakes, ponds and pools.”
Partners in Water Safety encourage all water users to familiarize themselves with water safety practices and bylaws on www.calgary.ca/watersafety