Calgary police urge safety on Bow and Elbow rivers during August long weekend

File. Global News

Police are reminding Calgarians to strap on life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) and use rafts that can handle choppier waters in the Bow and Elbow rivers, as thousands of Calgarians flock to the water in the summer heat.

The warning comes as police remind rafters of the nine rescues they’ve made on Calgary’s waterways since May. Some of those incidents could have turned fatal, they said.

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“I’ll never forget the panicked look in the eyes of the grandmother, mother and three-year-old son who we found stuck on a log jam earlier this year,” a statement from Const. Ryan Schroeder read. “The mother sustained multiple broken ribs and major bruising from the current pushing her into the logs.

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“Even when you do everything right, things can – and do – go wrong.”

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The Calgary Police Service (CPS) said, over the past weekend, more than 5,300 people were out on the rivers.

The force said, over the long weekend, the marine unit and the Calgary Fire Department’s aquatic unit will be out in force on the Bow and Elbow. That includes cracking down on anyone bringing alcohol or drugs onto the rivers.

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CPS said of the 17,000 people they’ve come into contact with on the rivers since May, they’ve issued warnings to 1,374 people. Tickets were handed out to 137.

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“The vast majority of people are having a great time and come prepared with the proper equipment. But it only takes a split second for something to go wrong,” Schroeder said.

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CPS said pool inflatables are not durable enough to stand up to rocks and that rafts should never be tied together. Rafters should have the following items on hand at all times:

  • A bailing device,
  • A sound signalling device such as a whistle, and
  • A 15-metre emergency throw rope that floats.
  • Proper paddles

You can find more information on Calgary’s water safety practices and bylaws on the city’s website, and check flow levels at

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