Grande Prairie Technical Search and Rescue wants to make sure people stay safe while using lakes and rivers in the area. Since the weather has warmed up and more and more boats have hit the water, President Christina Fobes says they have already surpassed their normal yearly call out numbers this year.

“We usually get about six or seven calls per year to the river for jet boating as well as just lost swimmers or people that they can’t locate. This year we’re already sitting at five call outs for river-related searches.”

Since 2016, 57 people have drowned in Alberta with 67 per cent of those drownings happening on lakes or rivers. Fobes says the number one tip they have for people is that life jackets are key regardless of how good a swimmer someone is.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a lake, it doesn’t matter if you’re on a river or near a river just make sure that everybody has a life jacket on.”

When it comes to boating, Fobes says it’s always best to have a trip plan that lets someone know where you’re going, when you’re going and when you’re coming back.

“We’ve already had to have a couple of river rescues this year for people that have been broken down but thank goodness they all had that trip plan, everybody knew where they were heading so they were located very quickly.”

People are also reminded not to drive a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, always bring emergency supplies like extra food, clothes, and a cell phone and always check the weather forecast before going on the water.