‘Exercise extreme caution’: Lethbridge officials issue summer water safety reminder

People in a water raft on the Oldman River. Global News File

The Oldman River in Lethbridge, Alta., often turns into a popular destination for sun seekers during the hotter months.

But as community members take to the water in their swim trunks, on floats or other devices, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services is advising the importance of safety.

“We’re just asking that if you’re going to get out on the river or any other bodies of water in and around the city, that you exercise extreme caution,” said LFES water rescue team lead Brendon Pyne.

Among the tips given Thursday, life jackets remain a top priority even for strong swimmers. Officials recommend inspecting them to ensure they hold air before hitting the river.

A view of the Oldman River in Lethbridge, Alta. from Pavan Park. This is the final location for floaters to disembark within city limits. Jaclyn Kucey / Global News

LFES said should you need to exit the river early, having proper footwear can help avoid injury. Drinking or doing drugs can impair your ability to swim and is not recommended.

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A float plan is also important before taking a dip, and being aware of signage to avoid dangerous areas such as weirs.

“Let somebody know where you’re putting in, where you’re getting out, how long you expect that trip to take,” Pyne added.

“For communication purposes we suggest that people have a cellphone with them.”

Click to play video: 'Lifesaving Society Manitoba shares water safety tips for summer'
Lifesaving Society Manitoba shares water safety tips for summer

Another safety risk exists around the low-level girders of the High Level bridge, according to LFES. Jumping off these pilings, which are also technically on CP Rail private property, can pose a serious danger.

“We’ve pulled barbed wire out, rope, logs — when we’re doing training in and around that area, there’s so many hazards we encounter. We’re professionals and we still have had issues,” Pyne said.

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“We ask the public to stay away from that area because of the potential that can happen.”

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