GRAND RIVER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
Put safety first on the water - June 4 to 11 is Water Safety Week
June 4 to 11 has been declared Water Safety Week by the Canadian Red Cross, an annual campaign to educate Canadians about staying safe around water and preventing drowning incidents.
The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) encourages people to put safety first when enjoying recreational activities in its parks, natural areas and along the rivers and streams throughout the watershed.
Wear a lifejacket
According to research conducted by the Canadian Red Cross, every year hundreds of Canadians drown while boating.
Over 87 percent of those who drown were not wearing a lifejacket or a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), or did not have it done up properly.
Transport Canada is one of the agencies responsible for marine safety in Canada, and is among many safety organizations that strongly recommend people wear a life jacket or PFD when participating in activities like canoeing, kayaking or boating.
Many Grand River Parks offer rentals of canoes, kayaks and paddleboats for visitors, all equipped with life jackets.
Tubing is a fun and popular activity offered at Elora Gorge Park, but doing so safely is of utmost importance.
Participants must wear helmets and PFDs, and are strongly encouraged to review the safety guidelines prior to participating.
Lifejacket loaner program at Grand River Parks
Grand River Parks have a life jacket loaner program for swimmers at beaches and pools.
Park staff have life jackets on hand to loan out for free with a small, refundable deposit or photo identification as security.
The GRCA owns 28 dams and there are over 100 other dams within the watershed.
Areas above and below a dam are dangerous, which is why the GRCA installs warning booms or buoys upstream of most of its dams each spring.
The GRCA reminds paddlers, anglers and boaters to stay upstream of any navigation marker buoys, and to never boat or canoe near dams where there can be undertows and extreme currents.
There are underwater openings in dams that can’t be seen from the surface, and the current near a dam can be very strong, creating an undertow where someone could easily become trapped under the water.
The GRCA has produced the River Safety Rules booklet, geared to kids, to help them stay safe when they are near water, particularly near a dam.
Temperatures and flows
Rivers, lakes and ponds can be fun places to swim, canoe and fish. However, these waterbodies are a part of nature and are always changing.
Safety should be the first concern when near the Grand River and other waterways.
Paddlers and anglers need to be aware that river flows can change quickly, and without warning.
Spring and fall are the most dangerous times, because river water is much colder even when the air temperature may be warm.
People can check river flows and temperatures in advance by visiting here.
More information on river safety is available on the GRCA website.