Keep Your Family Safe on the Water:


Calgary Fire Department reminds citizens of risks on Calgary’s waterways

Whether you’re floating down the Bow and Elbow rivers, or enjoying a community lake, the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) reminds you that where there’s water, there’s risk. Always make the safety of yourself and others a priority.

“Accidents can happen even when you do everything right,” says Carol Henke, CFD Public Information Officer. “The importance of lifejackets or personal flotation devices (PFD), even in shallow, slow-moving water, cannot be exaggerated.”

Henke stresses the importance to being prepared for anything on the water, advising rafters to be aware of the river’s course and new features like the Harvie Passage and the standing waves near the 10 Street Bridge. She urges users to monitor conditions and avoid the river altogether during high-flow advisories. “Stay alert, be prepared for water hazards and learn to swim—it can save your life.”

Before you go out on the water, familiarize yourself with safety practices and bylaws on and check flow advisories at

  • Wear a lifejacket or PFD: Even strong swimmers in shallow, slow-moving water are required to wear lifejackets. Make sure the lifejacket fits properly and always check the size and weight restrictions of the lifejacket.
  • Scout, assess and decide: Check for potential river hazards and river advisories to determine if it’s safe to raft or boat.
  • Keep kids safe around water: Keep toddlers or young children within arm’s reach while in or around all bodies of water.
  • Learn to swim: Swimming is a life-saving skill. Classes are offered year-round at
  • Behave on the water: Consuming and transporting alcohol and drugs is illegal on Calgary’s waterways. Anyone engaging in unsafe or disrespectful behaviour on the water will be subject to fines.
  • Bring the right supplies: Make sure you have the right river craft, the right lifejacket and the right paddle for the river conditions. Carry a cell phone to call for help in case of emergency.
  • Call 9-1-1: If there’s an emergency on the water, call 9-1-1.

An Alberta Health Services (AHS) advisory for water quality remains in effect for the Elbow River between Sandy Beach and 9th Avenue SE. This section of the river is shallow and slow moving, which can result in higher levels of bacteria at times. If you do choose to access the river in this area make sure you don’t drink the water, avoid contact with your face and mouth, and wash thoroughly after being in the river.

Learn more about staying safe on our waters this summer: