Friday, July 31, 2009

River rafting this weekend?

We’re gearing up for a beautiful long weekend, and literally thousands are expected to take in a time-honoured tradition – rafting down one of Calgary’s rivers. But before you go, remember these quick tips to save you fines, and potentially save your life.

Animal & Bylaw Services Director Bill Bruce says that there are a few things to keep in mind for any rafting trip – put on the life jacket, leave the alcohol at home and use the proper “facilities” for getting rid of your garbage and relieving bodily functions.
  • Life jackets must be on you, not sitting next to you in the raft. Why? “In an emergency, you won’t have time to put it on … if you get ejected or fall overboard, the boat will be gone before you realize it … and then you’re stranded.”

  • As in any other public space, alcohol can’t be open or consumed on the river. On a hot day, effects of alcohol are “greatly magnified … and accidents tend to happen.”

  • The fine for littering is $500. Unless you have a lot of spare change, it’s not worth it – just bring the garbage back with you and dump it in the nearest trash can.

  • Urinating in public isn’t cool, don’t do it. You could get slapped with a $300 penalty.
Other tips?

Don’t forget the water. Dehydration on the river can happen very quickly.

When you see the signs telling you that you’re getting close to the weir, make your way to shore ASAP. The weir’s extremely dangerous, and so is a rescue. The last spot to safely get off the river is just past the Inglewood bridge, which is just past the Calgary Zoo – watch for the “portage” sign on the riverbank to your right.

And have a plan – “know where you put in, know where you’re taking out; take a cell phone in the event of an emergency.”

Check out my interview with Bruce below (and please forgive my shaky hand!).

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