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Parks and Protected Spaces

beach groups

Manitoba’s Beach Safety Program - Groups

Beach safety programDuring summer, lakes and beaches in Manitoba’s provincial parks are popular places for group outings with children. While swimming is a fun activity enjoyed by many, accidents can and do happen. Drowning is a leading cause of death for Manitobans under 19 years of age.

To promote safety on our beaches, Manitoba Parks has instituted a Beach Safety Program to help you and your group enjoy Manitoba’s provincial park beaches as safely as possible. Make sure you follow the guidelines set out in the Beach Safety Program when you are visiting one of Manitoba’s provincial parks.

Group Supervision Ratio

One of the main causes of water mishaps is lack of supervision. To ensure the health and safety of every child, group outings require careful supervision by responsible adults. The following supervision ratios are recommended:

Age of Child Ratio of Supervisors to Children
1 – 3 years 1 supervisor for every 1 child
4 – 6 years 1 supervisor for every 4 children
7 – 10 years 1 supervisor for every 6 children
11 – 14 years 1 supervisor for every 8 children
15 – 18 years 1 supervisor for every 12 children

These ratios are dependent on each child’s swimming abilities. If some children can’t swim, more adults are needed to supervise the group. If appropriate ratios cannot be met, the group outing should be cancelled.

Group Safety Tips

Group outings with children pose unique risks and challenges. Whether you attend a staffed or non-staffed beach, following these guidelines will help increase safety for your group:

  • Before taking children to the beach, ensure their parents know the nature of the activity and the type of supervision being provided at the event.

  • Supervisors should be aware of each child’s swimming abilities.

  • Divide the group into smaller groups for easier supervision.

  • Assign a specific group of children to each supervisor.

  • Supervisors should be informed of their responsibilities by the event coordinator.

  • Once at the beach, establish a location for children to meet in an emergency and ensure children know this location.

  • Ensure the children know what to do if they become lost.

  • For easy identification on crowded beaches, dress everyone in your group – including the adults – in distinctive matching clothing.

  • Agree on a signal, such as a series of whistles, to quickly gain your group’s attention.

  • Conduct regular head counts to ensure all children are present.

  • In the water, ensure that children are within arms-length distance of the adult. If children are not within arms-length, you are too far away.

  • Young children and weaker swimmers should wear a properly-sized life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). This is not a replacement for supervision.

For more water safety tips, see the Beach Safety for Groups brochure.

Drowning is Preventable!

Staffed Beaches

The three staffed beaches in Manitoba’s provincial parks are Grand Beach, Winnipeg Beach and Birds Hill Park. Swimming and wading are allowed at these beaches and Beach Safety Officers are on duty.

Beach safety officerBeach Safety Officers

  • provide public education
  • patrol the beach by foot and kayak
  • search for missing people
  • inspect the beach for hazards
  • administer first aid
  • provide water rescues

Beach Safety Officers also provide water safety orientation for groups. At the beach, organized groups should report to the Beach Safety Station for water safety tips and information about current beach conditions.

Beach Safety Officers are not lifeguards. They do not supervise the swimming area. You and your group swim at your own risk.

Flag warning systemFlag Warning System

Staffed beaches feature warning flags on the shoreline. A flag on the beach indicates that Beach Safety Officers are on duty. Different coloured flags also communicate information about swimming conditions:

  • Green Flag
    Good conditions. No unusual hazards.

  • Yellow Flag
    Moderate conditions. Swim with caution.

  • Red Flag
    Danger! Swimming not advised.

  • Red/White Flag
    Emergency Evacuation - Take Shelter

  • No Flag
    No Beach Safety Officer on duty.

Non-Staffed Beaches

All the remaining beaches in Manitoba’s provincial parks are non-staffed. No Beach Safety Officers are on duty at these beaches.

Beach Safety Signs

Beach safety signsBoth staffed and non-staffed beaches feature a variety of signs to communicate beach safety messages, identify Beach Safety Stations, post beach safety rules and signal hazards.

  • Green Circle   Recommended activities. For example, ‘Swimming.’

  • Yellow Diamond Shape   Warning messages. For example, ‘Steep Drop-Off.’

  • Red Circle with a Red Diagonal Slash   Prohibited activities. For example, ‘No Wading.’

Other beach safety signs are easily identifiable by the distinctive green border and ‘Beach Safety Program’ identifier. Beach Safety signs are posted in English and French at St. Malo and St. Ambroise provincial parks.

Please Obey all Posted Signs!