Officials remind Albertans to practice water safety as temperatures soar

EDMONTON — As a heat wave continues to pound Alberta, officials are reminding people enjoying the water to always keep water safety in mind.

“When you’re out and on the water, it can be really fun,” said Jillian Derusha, a water safety instructor with the Canadian Red Cross. “(That fun) can turn tragic.”

Derusha said a reminder of this and the importance of water safety came Friday evening when emergency crews searched for a man last seen swimming in the North Saskatchewan River.

As of Sunday, the man remains missing.

“Most of these incidents and accidents, even drownings, occur when it’s least expected,” Derusha added. “It’s not when you’re prepared for it. It will catch you off guard and surprise you.

“Have a life jacket or personal floatation device with you, even if you’re not fully on the water and just near it.”

Police and fire rescue services reminded Edmontonians to practice caution when enjoying glacier-fed rivers like the North Saskatchewan River since the spring thaw in the mountains is well underway.

Stefan Voelker with Edmonton Canoes says the tour company offers water safety training as part of their river tours.

He suggests for those enjoying the water in a boat or canoe to have a throw rope and a whistle, as well as sunscreen and drinking water.

“In a hot day with the sun blazing, that can be pretty tough,” Voelker said.

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