ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE
With reports of warmer weather, area boaters maybe more visible this Victoria Day weekend than they have been lately but members of the Marine Unit attached to the Southern Georgian Bay Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will be visible and checking vessels and occupants this weekend. OPP Marine officers from detachment have logged over 135 hours of patrol on waterways in the Georgian Bay area since April 22, 2020 checking over 80 vessels and occupants for safety equipment and signs of impairment.
"With the Canada Safe Boating Safety Week of May 16-18, 2020 upon us, vessel operators need to be vigilant this weekend. Area waters are still very cold and levels are high due to our spring weather conditions and having all of the required safety equipment is paramount for everyone's sake should an emergency occur. Detachment marine officers will be highly visible watching for aggressive boaters and promoting awareness, and in cases providing enforcement in an effort to change operator behaviour" says interim Detachment Commander Inspector Joseph Evans.
Marine officers have also been responding to calls for service from the public and checking water access only cottages and businesses while on patrol. Boaters should also check the following websites and comply with any restrictions before planning to go ashore on your favourite island in Georgian Bay.
Any operator who is unsure of the equipment required for their vessel please view the Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide at https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-menu-1362.htm. An essential part our enforcement effort is to save lives and reduce injuries on our waterways while promoting and educating the public about safe boating practices.
Police are also stressing the importance of essential safety tips, including wearning a life-jacket.
In the last 10 years, 80 per cent of the people who died in OPP-investigated boating incidents were not wearing a life jacket. It is important for paddlers to wear them too as canoes and kayaks were among the top three vessel types involved in the fatalities over the last 10-year period.
Two people died last weekend, May 9, 2020, when their canoe capsized off Manitoulin Island. Neither of the paddlers was wearing a life-jacket.
DON'T take your boat out if you've consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs. Even prescription drugs can impair your ability to safely navigate your vessel or deal with an emergency.
Almost 40 per cent of boating fatalities in the last 10 years involved alcohol or drugs.
DO be wary of the dangers of cold water immersion.
In the last decade, 43 of the 229 boating fatalities occurred between the months of January and May, when water is either freezing or cold enough for hypothermia to set in.
DON'T take your boat out unless both you and your vessel are fully prepared. Every year, the OPP is called out to stranded boaters who failed to properly check their vessels and plan their trip.
Ensure your boat is properly equipped. Be sure to have sufficient fuel and only go out if the weather makes it safe to do so.
DO take a safe boating course. A boating course will educate you about keeping you and your family safe on the water.
During the week-long safe boating campaign, members of the OPP Marine Program will join marine partners across Canada as they conduct enforcement on waterways and educate boaters and paddlers about staying safe.