Conservation officers urge boaters to think safety on the water

A boat crosses Wollaton Lake, near Coe Hill, Ontario in 2009. Photo © Kevin Swayze

Source: Ontario Conservation Officers press release

The snow is gone, the blackflies are out – and the May long weekend is within sight.

For tens of thousands of Ontario boaters and anglers, it’s the first chance to get the boat into the water for another exciting season. It’s also a time to give some serious thought to making this summer a safe one on the water. With this goal in mind, the Ontario Conservation Officers Association (OCOA) proudly joins the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC) to mark North American Safe Boating Awareness Week – May 21-27.

“Our members actively enforce the laws regarding safe boating”, says OCOA President Mike Duncan, a Conservation Officer, angler, and boater himself. “It is the responsibility of every boater to ensure that they enjoy their favourite activity safely.”

The OCOA and CSBC offer the following tips for safe boating:

Wear your life jacket or PFD

  • PFDs save lives – but they have to be worn to be useful
  • Have enough life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) on board for each passenger – it’s the law

Don’t drink and boat

  • It is illegal and unsafe to consume liquor on a vessel unless your boat is equipped with sleeping, cooking, and washroom facilities AND you are anchored
  • Never operate a vessel after consuming alcohol

Take a boating course

  • All operators of recreational vessels in Ontario are required to possess a Pleasure Craft Operator Card
  • In addition to taking the test to get a card, all new boaters are encouraged to take a boating safety course

Be prepared

  • Be sure to carry the safety equipment legally required for your boat
  • Be familiar with the operation of your boat and know its limitations for passengers and gear
  • Check your equipment – winter storage can be hard on your gear

Beware of cold water risks

  • Hypothermia is a serious concern, particularly in Ontario in May
  • Even on warm spring days, being thrown into cold water is a life- threatening emergency if help is not nearby

Take a safe boating course and get your boat operator license.


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