Tips for staying safe on rivers this summer

Summer is now in full swing and that means one of the best ways to spend your day is floating down the Bow River. It’s a great way to keep cool while also taking in all the beautiful scenery Calgary has to offer. With that said, the City of Calgary would like to remind you that where there is water, there is risk. “Accidents can happen even when you do everything right,” said Carol Henke, CFD Public Information Officer. Before you head down to the river with your floaties, here are a few must-knows:

  • Wear a lifejacket. Even in shallow, slow moving water, you’re better safe than sorry.
  • Using drugs or alcohol on Calgary’s waterways is prohibited; being impaired on the water is a recipe for disaster. “Alcohol and drugs impair your judgement on the water much like it does on the road,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Wallace. “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.”
  • Avoid the river during high flow advisories.
  • Know the river before you get on it. The last thing you want to do is end up stuck in Harvie Passage without the proper equipment.
  • Keep kids within arm’s reach when on the water. People who can’t swim need to be monitored closely so they don’t slip under the water. This goes for all bodies of water, not just the river.
  • Bring proper gear like drinking water, hats, sunscreen and a cell phone.
  • In case of emergency, look for outflow markers. They are typically blue signs with a ‘B,’ followed by a two-digit number. These markers can be used by 9-1-1 to locate you if needed.

The Calgary Bylaw and Police Services will be patrolling the river this summer to enforce municipal bylaws as well as provincial regulations. The goal is to help prevent accidents, so no one has to worry for their safety when they leave the dock.

Wearing a lifejacket can’t be stressed enough. The ticket for not wearing one on a Calgary waterway is up to $500 and a mandatory court appearance. In the best interests of your safety and your bank account, just wear one. The Calgary Fire Department also stresses that everyone on the river needs to know how to swim. Partners in Water Safety encourage all water users to familiarize themselves with the safety practices and bylaws on and check flow levels at If you have any questions about advisories, call 3-1-1 for up-to-date information about the river.

If you’re looking beat the heat on the river this summer, remember to follow the bylaws set out by the city. They are implemented to keep you and others safe. Wear a life jacket, and don’t forget to have fun.