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Water safety on the South Saskatchewan River

For immediate release: July 2, 2021 - 1:00pm
FI21-2299

With summer weather upon us, the Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD) is advising the public to exercise increased caution in and around the South Saskatchewan River. Recreation on the river can be fun and relaxing, but safety should be top of mind when residents approach the water.

Know before you go

Evaluate weather, equipment and water conditions from the shore before approaching the river: 

  • Assess the water for changing currents
  • Plan your route and scout potential hazards or obstacles, including shallow areas and sandbars. 
  • Check the weather conditions and note any river advisories
  • Inspect your watercraft for safety preparedness.

Be respectful when operating watercrafts

Operating watercraft on the South Saskatchewan River is permitted where posted and requires proof of competency. When launching a pleasure craft or boating on the river, operators should be familiar with boating regulations and follow the Transport Canada Safe Boating GuideWatercraft operators are required to have a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) on board for each person on a watercraft; this includes both human- and motor-powered crafts.

River users should maintain proper river etiquette, and be considerate of others on the waterway: 

  • Operate your craft at a safe speed. 
  • Maintain a respectful distance from other river users
  • Do not operate a craft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 
  • Ensure your craft is equipped with appropriate markers and lighting.  
  • Care for the environment by properly launching, fuelling, starting, and loading your craft.

Swimming is prohibited in the South Saskatchewan River

Bylaw No. 4433 prohibits swimming in the South Saskatchewan River within city limits. Wading or walking through the water is permitted unless otherwise posted. Protective footwear is recommended when walking along the river’s shore or sandbar to avoid cuts and abrasions from sharp rocks or other hazards.

View weir from a safe distance

The South Saskatchewan River is equipped with a weir to alter the flow and discharge of water along the river. This barrier produces a powerful backwash of water that is capable of trapping objects and people. The weir must never be approached and should only be viewed from a safe distance.

Water rescue tips

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 shore edge on the below noted tips for water self-rescue

In the event that you are in distress in the river: 

  • Stay calm.  
  • 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 shore edge.  

Always be cautious near larger bodies of water. In an emergency, call 911 immediately