The Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) urges the public to be extra cautious and always be aware of surroundings if the South Saskatchewan River is part of a summer fun activity.
“Hot weather like we have right now makes people look for fun ways to cool off and get out on the river,” says Deputy Chief Rob Hogan. “There are many things that we can do safely, but there are some that folks shouldn’t do because it puts them and others at great risk.”
On the weekend, SFD crews assisted three individuals to safety in two separate incidents after they found themselves stranded in the river near Poplar Bluff south of city limits.
Bylaw No. 4433 prohibits swimming in the South Saskatchewan River within city limits. Areas along the river outside of city limits are popular cool-down spots in the summer. Deputy Chief Hogan says response times to water rescue calls outside of the city can be affected by many factors.
“The Saskatoon Fire Department’s priority is to attend to calls for emergency services within city limits, and so the Mutual Aid service that we provide to areas outside of the city in the RM of Corman Park can be impacted if our crews are already busy with fire or emergency calls inside the city,” Hogan says. “We want all residents to be mindful of this when making the decision to venture near, in, or on the water, and have a back-up plan if our crews can’t get to you immediately.
“Evaluate the weather and water conditions from the shore before you venture out and inform others of your plans and route. You should keep your cell phone as charged as possible, refrain from alcohol which affects judgement, have a personal floatation device, and take a whistle and flashlight to call out and notify of your location.”
If you are in distress in the river:
Keep your head above the water.
Remove any heavy or bulky clothing items.
Don’t fight the current; move with the current as you work your way to the riverbank.
If you witness someone in distress in the river:
Call 911 immediately to report the incident, noting details about the individual, time, and situation.
Keep track of recognizable landmarks around the area where the individual was first seen in distress in the water.
Coach the individual from the riverbank or shore edge with the above noted tips for water self-rescue.
For additional information, visit saskatoon.ca/watersafety.