Sunday, February 25, 2024

Check Off These Boxes For a Safe Boating Season

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reminds boaters that a safe boating season comes down to a simple, yet important, checklist before and during a boat outing.

Wear your lifejacket

Only 11 of the 130 boaters/paddlers who have died on OPP-patrolled waterways in the last five years were wearing a lifejacket. With capsized vessels and falling overboard the leading causes of boating fatalities every year, the life-saving value of wearing a lifejacket cannot be overstated.

Boat sober and drug-free

Whether you are a power boater or paddler, alcohol and drug consumption has no place on the water. Every year, impaired operation of a vessel is a contributing factor in boating deaths.

Plan and be prepared

Ensure you and your vessel are up for the type of water adventure you’re planning. Always check the weather forecast, make sure your vessel is in good working condition, have sufficient fuel, a fully charged cell phone, and always ensure someone knows when and where you are going, and when you expect to be back.

Be cold water safe

With many of Ontario’s waterways very cold year round, even the best swimmers will feel the effects of sudden cold-water immersion. Familiarizing yourself with the 1-10-1-principle will help you understand how ending up in cold water can severely impact your ability to swim or even stay afloat. It will also remind you that your best chance of surviving an incident that lands you in the water is to wear your lifejacket!

With Safe Boating Awareness Week kicking off this weekend, the OPP and its Marine Program members will be promoting safety on the water in partnership with the Canadian Safe Boating Council and other marine safety partners.

The 29 people who lost their lives in OPP-investigated marine incidents in 2022 included 18 boat operators, seven passengers, and four people in the water. Only two of the deceased were wearing a lifejacket.

The OPP Marine Program has a fleet of 134 vessels and approximately 400 highly trained marine officers committed to enforcing boating laws and the safety of Ontario boaters on more than 110,000 square kilometres (95 per cent) of Ontario’s lakes and rivers.

Safe Boating Awareness Week runs from May 20 to 26.

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