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Fred Henne Beach Audit Report: Recommendations released to improve beach safety

YELLOWKNIFE (October 24, 2013) – Recommendations to make Fred Henne Territorial Park beach safer have been released by the Lifesaving Society of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.  The Lifesaving Society performed acomprehensive aquatic safety audit on the unsupervised waterfront beach and unsupervised boat launch facilities at Fred Henne Territorial Park in July. The purpose of the audit was to analyse and provide recommendations to maximize the safety of beach users.

The report included four priority recommendations:

  1. Consult with the Department of Health and Social Services to establish a regular schedule for taking bacteriological water samples of the swim area during the swim season.
  2. Make equipment such as a reaching pole and a buoyant throwing aid available on the beach in appropriate locations.
  3. Add appropriate signage in regards to identification of hazards, children require direct supervision, location of emergency phone and equipment, rules of use and detailed safety rules.
  4. Place emergency numbers next to the phone and at the beach public access points.

The report also made four primary and 27 secondary recommendations. Other recommendations included developing a detailed safety and emergency plan, revising the colour and placement of buoys, restricting swimming in the boat launch area, developing and implementing a comprehensive awareness campaign about the importance of adult supervision, reducing the size of the swimming area and more.

“We are going to work with the Lifesaving Society to put these priority recommendations in place to make the beach safer,” said Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) David Ramsay. “We are all responsible for keeping the beach safe and everyone who uses the beach has a responsibility for understanding the rules for water safety. We welcome the Lifesaving Society’s report and will look closely at all of their priority, primary and secondary recommendations to do everything we can to make our territorial parks safe and fun for families.”

“The government has demonstrated a genuine desire to review and improve beach safety at territorial Parks,” says Kelly Carter, standards and safety manager, Lifesaving Society AB/NWT. “The audit process involved input and collaboration with various levels of government, along with community partners. The recommendations will help to enhance and promote optimal safety for the beach, but ultimately it is up to the public to make Water Smart® choices in, on and around the water.”

While the recommendations do not specifically include lifeguards, ITI has engaged the Lifesaving Society to perform a lifeguard feasibility study to identify the costs and steps that would be required to provide lifeguards. Previous advice from the Lifesaving Society has indicated that providing a lifeguard service could require restrictions on beach access, introduction of new rules for beach usage and additional priority and primary recommendations that would need to be implemented before a supervised waterfront could be considered an option.

The Lifesaving Society also performed an audit of the Hay River Territorial Park beach. The final report with recommendations is expected in late November.

The Lifesaving Society is a national charity working to prevent drowning and water-related injury. They save lives and prevent injury through training programs, Water Smart public education, water-incident research, aquatic safety management services and lifesaving sport.

Backgrounder – Fred Henne Beach Report

For more information:

Alayna Ward
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Industry, Tourism and Investment, Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 920-8696

Kelly Carter/Barbara Costache
Lifesaving Society Alberta and Northwest Territories
Tel: (780) 415-1755