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Caution urged by Winnipeg Police River Patrol during ‘Safe Boating Awareness Week’

Water and boating safety are floating top of mind as Manitoba enters ‘Safe Boating Awareness Week’. Many Manitobans look forward to getting out on the water as the warmer summer weather starts to flow across the province.

The Winnipeg Police River Patrol Unit has been cruising the Red and Assiniboine River for several years, and just like their land-locked counterparts, patrol sergeant Stephane Fontaine says they respond to all types of calls for assistance.

“They’re boating and may have had a collision of any sort, we’ll look at those,” Explained Fontaine. “But we also look at any incidents where someone may be in the river for whatever reason, struggling or possibly drowning, or not able to get back to shore.”

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Fontaine cautioned would-be swimmers saying even though the warmer weather has become more and more consistent, the water hasn’t caught up yet.

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“We have had a few incidents where we’ve had to go help out people looking to get into the river,” Fontaine said. “Right now the water temperature is very cold, and that’s usually quite the shock for anyone coming into the water.”

Members of the river patrol are also stressing the importance of water and boat safety for parents and their children. Ray Duma who’s also a river patrol officer says they responded to several calls involving children wandering off and getting lost along the water’s edge.

“Last year we did respond to quite a few calls for service for kids wandering off from their parents,” explained Duma. “There was one [case] in particular where a child wandered off and was quite close to the river which we ended up locating.”

When asked what should priority number one be in regards to water safety? Duma couldn’t say it enough.

“Ensure that you’re watching your kids, and lifejackets, lifejackets, lifejackets”.

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