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Heading to the river this weekend? Here's how to stay safe

Monday, May 16th 2022, 2:40 pm - Have fun this weekend - and do it the right way, with these safety tips.

As we gear up for the Victoria Day long weekend, many of us will be relaxing near the water - perhaps even taking a dip.

But even if the conditions are calm and the river looks inviting, there are a few things to keep in mind, MairiAnna Bachynsky, communications manager at the Canadian Red Cross tells The Weather Network. That's because the risk of water-related injuries or fatalities around rivers may be greater than it seems.

"Swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking all of these are fun activities on the river," MairiAnna says.

"But it's important to know the hazards. Watch for currents, rocks, drop-offs, and rapids - and always wear a lifejacket."

Drowning can happen quickly, and even for those who survive prolonged periods submerged in water, there can be long-term health impacts, according to the CDC.

"Whatever the waterway, it's important to swim with supervision, observe posted signs, and stay sober," MairiAnna adds.

Open water presents a different scenario than what you would find in a swimming pool. It can be difficult to gauge distance in open water, and you may be surprised by cold currents, unexpected waves, or undertows.

"River currents, especially when concentrated around rocks, bridge pilings, and in hydraulics or whirlpools at the base of dams, have enormous power and can easily trap even strong swimmers," the Red Cross says on its website.

"If you become caught in a river current or fast moving water, roll onto your back and go downstream feet first to avoid hitting obstacles head first. When you are out of the strongest part of the current, swim straight toward shore."

A little bit of preparation can go a long way towards creating some safe and happy memories this long weekend - something we all deserve, given the year we've had.

Thumbnail image created by Cheryl Santa Maria for The Weather Network.

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