Calgary·Video

Big spike in Calgary river rescues last year prompts safety warning

"Accidents can happen even when you do everything right," says acting fire chief Ken Uzeloc as officials remind Calgarians to be careful after a spike in swift-water river rescues last year.

'The importance of life jackets, even in shallow, slow-moving water, cannot be exaggerated'

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Officials are reminding Calgarians to be careful when they go out on the city's rivers this summer, after a 25 per cent spike in swift-water rescues last year. 0:32

Officials are reminding Calgarians to be careful when they go out on the city's rivers this summer, after a 25 per cent spike in swift-water rescues last year.

The Calgary Fire Department, Calgary police and the city's community standards department announced their new Partners in Water Safety program at an event on the Bow River Thursday morning.

"Where there's water, there's risk," said acting Fire Chief Ken Uzeloc in a release.

"The importance of life jackets, even in shallow, slow-moving water, cannot be exaggerated."

In 2016, fire crews were called out to rescue 62 people from Calgary's waterways.

A ticket for failing to wear a life jacket comes with a mandatory court appearance and up to $500 in fines.

Drugs and alcohol

Officials also urge users to avoid alcohol and any unsafe behaviour on the waterways.

"Alcohol impairs your judgement on the water much like it does on the road," said Staff Sgt. Clare Smart.

"With all the unexpected situations people can encounter on the water, impairment from drugs or alcohol will make it that much more difficult to react."

Uzeloc said people need to be prepared for anything on the water.

"Accidents can happen even when you do everything right," Uzeloc said.

"Stay alert, be prepared for water hazards and learn to swim — it can save your life."

With files from Mark Matulis

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