Gateway Gazette

Town of Okotoks: Sheep River Safety

The days may be getting longer and hotter but the risks associated with enjoying the Sheep River remain the same.  While enjoying a sunny afternoon dip in river sounds ideal, swimmers must always take the appropriate safety precautions.

Water levels in rivers can fluctuate and the depths can vary dramatically. Slippery rocks can cause falls and feet can become trapped. Rivers in the foothills can contain debris like logs and overhanging trees, making entering the water extremely risky. Swimmers and rafters can easily get caught in these hazards and the current can cause them to become trapped.  Even shallow rivers currents are very forceful. It is important to scout the river and assess dangers. If you are unsure of hazards stay away from that part of the river.

As the river is an unguarded area, people must always use caution when around a body of water. Recreation seekers must be aware of their surroundings and the potential hazards.

According to the Lifesaving Society’s Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch (www.lifesaving.org), even during the summertime, most Canadian bodies of water are cold enough to be considered a major contributing factor in recreational drowning deaths.

The society suggests the following safety measures:

  • every family member meet the Swim to Survive standard — where you roll into deep water, tread water for one
  • minute then swim 50 metres.
  • wear lifejackets (even when not boating)
  • check the weather forecast before heading out
  • do not consume alcoholic beverages
  • closely supervise children
  • swim with a buddy
  • never dive into shallow water

Community Safety

The Okotoks Fire Department believes that it is vital for fire and safety education to reach all audiences.  Watch for our education campaigns throughout the year via our Social Media Pages, Okotoks.ca website, and local media.  We also visit schools throughout the year and you can find us out at local community events.

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