As thousands of sun-seekers flood Ontario waterways this weekend, Marine Unit officers are reminding people to think ahead to stay safe.
Barbara Byers, a past chair of the Canadian Safe Boating Council and the Ontario director for the Lifesaving Society, stressed the importance of safety at the unofficial start of summer – Victoria Day weekend.
“The first weekend of the summer, many people are so excited to go boating they forget to check their boats,” she said. “Please check it to make sure it’s functioning properly and you have all your safety equipment. Some people also forget how to operate their boats. Refresh your memory about the lakes that you are on and check that your vessel is in good working order because things happen over the winter.”
Top Five Safety Tips:
- Wear a Lifejacket (Wear it at all times on the boat. It’s the easiest way to stay safe)
- Boat Sober (Alcohol and drug impairment are just as dangerous and share the same penalties as on the road)
- Prepare your boat (Check wiring, batteries, safety equipment is on board)
- Be wary of cold water (Wear a dry suit or be wary of staying in the water long)
- Take a boating course (Brush up your skills or learn about your new vessel)
Marine Unit Constable Rich Baker said being impaired by drugs or alcohol while boating is a major contributor to the number of deaths on the water each year.
“We want to stress the point that any intoxicating substance on the water is dangerous,” Baker said. “The sun, wind and rolling motion of the boat are only increased by intoxicating substances on the water.”
Marine Unit Auxiliary Officer Frank Dileo, who presents water-safety messages all year long, stressed that wearing lifejackets, while on a boat or watercraft like a paddleboard, makes a huge difference to safety.
“Equipment is the most important thing on board a vessel,” Dileo said. “When you fall into the water, the only thing that will keep you afloat will be that life jacket as hypothermia will set in quickly. Once that happens, you will lose your dexterity and you will not be able to stay afloat.”
North American Safe Boating Awareness Week, which runs from May 19 to 25, is aimed at promoting safe and responsible boating practices to the 14 million Canadians who take part in recreational boating in the summer.
Visit the Canadian Safe Boating Council at csbc.ca for more safety information.