Water Safety Tips

Beach Safety

Changes are in place at Fred Henne Territorial Park and Hay River Territorial Park to ensure everyone has a fun and safe summer on the beach.

  • Children 7 and under should always be within arm's reach of a caregiver 16 years or older while in the water. That way if there is an unexpected wave or fall, someone is there to catch them
  • Work together to watch for hazards and talk about swimming conditions before wading in. Any swimmers 11 and under should be accompanied by someone over the age of 16
  • Wear a lifejacket. Everyone should wear a lifejacket while boating and new swimmers should wear one whenever they're near water
  • Keep a close watch on the kids. Any beachgoer under the age of 11 should be accompanied by someone over the age of 16. Keep children safe by always keeping your eye on what they're doing and where they're playing

Make sure your family is aware of these updates and review them every time you visit the beach.

Be Prepared

Familiarise your entire group with rescue techniques, and practice them. The following items are some of the things that you should do before setting off on your trip.

  • Kneel - a canoe is more stable when both paddlers kneel
  • Wear a personal flotation device at all times
  • Never travel alone
  • Leave an itinerary with friends or family

If You Capsize:

  • Always rescue people first, the canoe second, and gear last.
  • Remove people from the cold water immediately
  • Hold on to your paddle

On a Lake:

  • Hold on to your canoe - it will float and will make you easy to spot
  • If you are near shore, push or swim the canoe to shore. Do not leave your canoe

On a River:

  • Never stand up in a swift current
  • If you tip or fall out, hold on to the upstream end of the canoe
  • Swim to shore or an eddy
  • If you are forced to swim in rapids, float on your back with your feet at the surface and downstream from you

White Water Tips

  • Always scout any rapids before running them
  • Hazards - look out for deadheads, log jams, overhanging branches and falls
  • Lash in your packs and waterproof your gear
  • Wind and waves can be a major problem. Allow extra time for the trip in case you become wind-bound. Follow the leeward shore at all times and cross lake at its narrowest point. As always, stay close to the shore for safety's sake


  • Due to changes in water level, the location of portages often varies. At low water, canoeists may have to clamber over dry rocks to reach the trail. At high water, the head of a portage may be dangerously close to the rapids below
  • Always keep the water level in mind when approaching a portage - portage signs may be several yards from the trail
  • Be confident - but do not overestimate your ability. And remember - nobody ever drowned on a portage!

Further Information

See the Transport Canada website for Key Safety Information for good advice and regulations about equipment, and recommended procedures for emergency situations on the water.

You can also visit the Lifesaving Society Website for more information on water safety and the Water Smart program.

Carrying a personal locator beacon is recommended for back-country travel on either land or water. For information on how having one could save your life in an emergency, see the National Search and Rescue Secretariat website.

Be sure to review the Canoeing Checklist and the Power Boating Checklist to ensure safe and enjoyable trips.