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Red Deer Emergency Services discourages recreational use of the Red Deer River until high water levels decrease

July 11, 2020 6:19 PM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

Red Deer Emergency Services (RDES), with help from RCMP and bystanders, assisted several people on the Red Deer River this afternoon.

At approximately 3:45 p.m., RDES was notified that a group of rafters appeared in distress near the Gaetz Avenue bridge. RDES dispatched crews and the water rescue craft.    

The group, heading down the river with rafts tied together, got hung up on the bridge pilings, separating and overturning the rafts. Some nearby kayakers provided assistance, but a number of the boaters were swept downstream. By 4:15 p.m. all of the people in the water were accounted for.

While the rescue was wrapping up, two more rafters overturned under the same bridge and also required rescuing from the river. No injuries were sustained during either of these incidents.

Red Deer Emergency Services advises users to take caution when enjoying the river and to use common sense to assess the safety and conditions of the river before entering.

  • Estimate your time of arrival and make sure someone knows your itinerary.
  • Life jackets should be worn at all times.
  • Carry oars or paddles to navigate and avoid obstacles.
  • Be prepared for unexpected conditions and pack your raft/boat with suitable warm clothing, water and other necessities in case of emergencies.
  • Use proper floating devices. Inflatable toys are designed for floating on lakes, not in flowing waters.
  • Do not tie rafts, tubes or dinghies together. When rafts are tied together, rafters run the risk of getting caught up around bridge pillars and floating debris.

The Red Deer River is flowing very quickly this weekend, and RDES discourages the public from being on the river until the high water levels recede.

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