Medicine Hat, AB - In the most recent report by the Life Saving Society, there was an estimated 42 water related death throughout the province in 2015.
That’s why the Medicine Hat Paddling Club is hosting the third annual “Life Jackets for Lives” tonight at Echo Dale.
The paddling club says along with those numbers, they’ve noticed an increase of boats going down the river that lack the safety gear they are required to have by law.
That’s why they are teaming up with 19 agencies including the City of Medicine Hat, Alberta Health Services, and the RCMP to help teach people all about water safety.
John C. Smith, the owner of Carefree Adventures, says one of the biggest issues they see when it comes to water safety is that not enough people are wearing life jackets because they feel they are strong swimmers.
“You don’t always know what’s going to happen when you are on the water. There’s other people, not unlike driving a car, where somebody else strikes you.” Smith sighed. “And if you’re unconscious and knocked out of your boat, then you become a statistic.”
Ann Pudwell, a health promotions facilitator with AHS, seconded that.
“I feel that Medicine Hat is just kind of brewing for a perfect storm. We have the river and lots of people look at the river and think it’s slow moving and looks quite relaxing, and there’s no dangers. But there are risks there so we want to educate the public that open water is very dangerous.” She said.
Rick Redmond, the president of the paddling club, says that in water safety they talk about the ‘ten rule.’
“You have basically ten seconds to stop, you fall in the water and you get in a panic. You’ve got ten seconds to kind of regain your composure and then you’ve got about ten minutes of meaningful movement to get yourself safe.” Redmond continued. “But if you have to spend all that time trying to get a life jacket on, you’re not saving yourself.”
The event goes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Echo Dale Regional Park.
Redmond says that the concession will be open and all of the agencies will have booths and activities. As well, people can have proper life jacket fittings and get the chance to try out kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddle boarding for free.
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