River Safety

July 31, 2020

Update July 31 2020

Okotoks Firefighters Josh and Ryan went down to the river to talk to the public on river safety where they found both visitors and local residents enjoying the cool waters. The firefighters shared information on the dangers to look for in the river and how ropes and throw bags are a valuable tool to have in case of a river emergency. A throw bag is a common river rescue tool that is carried on rafts in river waters. They are typically made with bright colors and even reflective tape to ensure high visibility for the rescuer and the person being rescued. Almost everyone they spoke to mentioned that they would look into buying a throw bag for own personal safety on the river. Throw bags are affordable and readily available – please consider adding one to your water safety kit! Stay safe! OFD.

See how a throw bag is used:

Watch the Okotoks Fire Department's River Safety video:

What you should know before using the Sheep River for recreational use:

While levels in the Sheep River are normal for this time of year, the water is exceptionally cold and the current is very fast, increasing the danger to the public. While enjoying a sunny afternoon dip in the river sounds ideal as the days are becoming hotter, it is dangerous and the Town strongly recommends not doing so.  Water levels in rivers can fluctuate and the depths can vary dramatically. Slippery rocks can cause falls and feet can become trapped.

Rivers in the foothills can contain debris such as logs and overhanging trees, making entering the water extremely risky. Swimmers and rafters can easily get caught in these hazards and the current can cause them to become trapped. Even the currents in shallow water can be very forceful.  As the river is an unguarded area, people must use caution near it.  River conditions can change rapidly and the public should be vigilant in keeping abreast of updates and advisories. For the latest river advisories please visit  https://rivers.alberta.ca/ and http://www.okotoks.ca.

The public’s cooperation is appreciated.