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River Safety

Keep away from watercourses during times of high, fast-flowing water and melting ice and stay safe.

This is the page of the former Spring Water Awareness (SWAP) program. 

With the ever-changing weather patterns and wilder weather, flooding can occur any time of year.  Everyone must be alert and know how to be safe around water, lakes, ponds and rivers.  The program name is now called River Safety to encompass a broader representation of what is taught during the program.

This program educates students about staying safe in times of flooding. River Safety helps students increase their understanding of the impacts of flooding on plants, animals, and humans and how to keep themselves safe around water. 

Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff instruct students throughout the Ausable Bayfield watersheds. River Safety includes both guided and interactive activities and the students have fun while learning about making appropriate safety decisions around waterways.

River Safety is a program, offered at no charge to schools, sponsored by the member municipalities of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority during the months from November to April. 

Virtual Primary Presentation is now available for FDK-grade 3.

ABCA River Safety Teacher’s Resource 

Ask about booking River Safety Quest in your classroom in-person or virtually for grades 4-8. 

Students enjoy age-appropriate activities that are designed to teach children about flooding, its impact on plants, animals and humans and how to take responsibility for their own safety around water. 

ABCA River Safety Quest Teacher’s Guide

Ausable Bayfield Conservation elementary watershed schools are welcome to book River  Safety by contacting Denise Iszczuk at or Nina Sampson

Website links for river safety

For useful information on teaching and learning about being safe around water visit the Ausable Bayfield Conservation links page and look for the 'River Safety' links:

Key Messages

Accidents are the leading cause of death among children 5-15 years of age. Many accidents are the result of lack of education and awareness. A concerted effort on all of our parts to teach children the dangers of thin ice and fast flowing rivers and creeks will give them the edge they need to play safely and avoid a tragedy this spring.

  1. Never play by water when you are alone.
  2. Always have an adult check if the ice is thick enough before you play on it.
  3. Never stand up in a canoe.
  4. Always wear a life jacket near water.
  5. Never drink water directly from a river or creek or pond.
  6. Always read and obey warning signs near water.
  7. Never play by dams and water control structures.
  8. Never go out at night on ice or unknown areas
  9. Always tell an adult where you are playing and when you'll be home.
  10. Call 911 or get a parent or guardian for all water-related emergencies.
  11. Take safety equipment with you and have it ready
Key Terms
  • Black, Gray or Blue Ice: Dark areas of ice that are thin and weak spots
  • Channel: The area between the banks of a stream where water normally flows
  • Conservation: The wise use and protection of our natural resources
  • Conservation authority: A community-based environmental protection agency with responsibilities under the Conservation Authorities Act.
  • Culvert: A large pipe or tube that allows water to flow under a road or driveway
  • Current: The force of moving water
  • Dam: A barrier set across a river to control the flow of water
  • Disoriented: Confused; unable to make sense of one's surroundings
  • Erosion: The movement of soil by wind, water or ice
  • Evaporation: The process by which water turns into a gas and goes to the sky.
  • Flood: The overflowing of water in a river onto the flood plain
  • Flood plain: The flat land beside a watercourse that periodically becomes covered by water; the river's living space
  • Freshet: A great increase in the amount of water in a stream caused by heavy rains or melting snow, usually in the spring
  • Hazard: A source of danger or risk, especially to one's personal safety
  • Hypothermia: A life-threatening condition in which a person's deep body temperature is lowered by exposure to cold air or water.
  • Water Cycle: The process of water movement from the ground to the sky and back.
  • Waterway: Any body of water flowing into another body of water
  • Watershed: An area of land that drains into a river or lake
  • Wetland: A type of habitat that has water in it for all or part of the year.
Contact us

Click this link for our staff contacts page: