Tips for summer river safety

Summer is now in full swing and that means one of the best ways to spend a hot summer day is floating down the Bow or Elbow rivers. 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 a risk.

The importance of safety on all of Calgary’s waterways cannot be understated. To help everyone reduce their risk while enjoying the water, we have compiled what you will need to navigate The City’s waterways. [City of Calgary]

Safety tips for the rivers in Calgary:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Always SCOUT, ASSESS and DECIDE from shore before going on rivers, lakes and waterways.

  1. Scout the river for potential hazards and check the weather and water conditions.

  2. Assess the level of danger. Check for river advisories and assess the swimming and paddling skills of your crew.

  3. Decide if it is safe to raft or boat.


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.