There are many options for people in Saskatoon to beat the heat, but one is appealing to others to exercise caution.
saskatoon fire department (SFD) is reminding people to stay safe around the South Saskatchewan River.
“They should have a life jacket, some kind of PFD,” says Rob Hogan, deputy fire chief of the Saskatoon Fire Department. “They should live in groups, make sure they have some sort of communication, have plenty of water, abstain from alcohol.”
Three people were rescued in two separate incidents over the weekend at Poplar Bluffs, about 15 minutes south of the city.
The first incident happened on Saturday night, when SFD got a call at around 10:00 pm that one person from their group was missing. About an hour later, one of the crew found a man in the river with water up to his neck.
Two more people were rescued the next morning after the RCMP said two people were missing. The SFD helped bring both men back to shore safely.
There is no report of any injury in any case.
“I think people are underestimating the power of the river and the kind of environment they are in. I think they need to be more aware of where they are going, and what they are facing. and tell other people what they’re doing, and be prepared because they have some sort of problem,” Hogan says.
At the same time, cooking food in scorching heat all day can be dangerous. Pamela Golden-McLeod, director of emergency planning for the city of Saskatoon, says she has measures in place to protect the most vulnerable.
“We have a lot of places that serve vulnerable homeless populations that provide cooling options, and those are places people are familiar with.
“All our Saskatoon public libraries, all our leisure centers, all our paddling pools, all our spray parks, they are all supposed to be cool places where you can go and take a break from the heat.”
In 2019, Cold Weather Strategy Partners realized the need for an extreme heat response plan to ensure designated cooling spaces for the homeless population.
Golden-McLeod says the plan expanded into 2021 after more than 600 people died during the B.C. heat-dome last year.
“Ninety-nine percent of them lived on their own, in a private residence. The vast majority, more than 70 percent of them, were people who were 50 and older, didn’t have air conditioning in their home, and had some sort of health problem,” says Golden-McLeod.
Any form of swimming in the river is prohibited within city limits, and Hogan says it is not reaching those rural locations so quickly.
“It will take time for people to get there. That’s why I say people need to be prepared in case they get into trouble, because it’s not coming in four or five minutes,” Hogan says.
“Like I said, it took us about an hour to find this person.”
The SFD says that if you plan to go near the river to take proper safety measures.
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