Safety first: RCMP urge caution when tubing on the Pembina River
Floaters are advised to plan ahead and know the area
RCMP and Alberta Parks have issued a public safety advisory for people tubing on the Pembina River, after having dealt with search and rescue operations involving 18 people so far this summer.
With its lazy current, the Pembina River is a popular place to float down in tubes on hot summer days.
People often launch their tubes off the riverbanks near Entwistle, about 100 kilometres west of Edmonton, before getting off at Pembina River Provincial Park.
Police are reminding those tubing the river to stay safe while doing so — and not miss that exit point at the provincial park.
"We want to encourage residents to enjoy tubing on the river, it's a fun summer activity," RCMP Const. Brandon Tobin said.
"But I'll stress the importance of getting off the river at the Pembina River Provincial Park."
Do your research
Tobin said there are few signs advising people to get off the river, so it's important to plan ahead.
If people miss the first exit, it's a seven-hour float down the river before the next exit at a camping area.
Recent incidents, in which RCMP were dispatched to four missing persons complaints involving 18 people, represent only a fraction of the complaints that have prompted search and rescue operations along the Pembina River.
Evansburg RCMP have investigated 17 missing persons complaints involving 60 people over the last five years.
Everyone has been found safe, but one person was reported to have hypothermia.
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"It's concerning because we have to call additional resources such as helicopters and ground search and rescue teams to (look for people)," Tobin said.
"This can take away resources from situations that might arise that need those crews."
Police are reminding people to review maps before heading out on the river to get an idea of how long the trip will take and where to get out of the river.
Those planning to tube on the river should tell someone where they're going and dress appropriately, wear a life jacket, avoid drinking alcohol and bring a cell phone.