June 20, 2013 11:18 am
Updated: June 20, 2013 5:44 pm

OPP urges boaters to follow proper safety practices

TORONTO – The Ontario Provincial Police are reminding boaters to follow proper safety practices as the weather begins to warm up and more people begin to hit the lakes this summer.

In 2012, the OPP investigated 20 fatal boating incidents in which 22 people died – 12 of them were boat operators and 10 were passengers.

In a majority of those deaths, the victims were not wearing personal flotation devices (PFD) and the vessel either capsized or the victim fell overboard.

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Boat safety experts say these fatalities are completely preventable.

“Many boaters don’t realize that more than 86 per cent of people drown in boating related fatalities, those drownings could have been prevented if they were wearing a PFD or lifejacket,” said Cameron Taylor, President of BOATsmart!.

It’s also worth noting that boaters should have a pleasure craft operator license and those who do not can face a stiff penalty.

“If you are caught without that card, it’s a $250 fine,” Taylor said.

The Ontario Provincial Police have a list of safety tips all boaters should follow:

Always Wear your Lifejacket – If you don’t wear it, it won’t work. Examine PFDs and lifejackets for wear and tear and identify those that need replacing. If you have inflatable PFDs be sure to be familiar with their operating instructions.

Don’t Drink & Boat – It is unacceptable to drink and drive a motor vehicle and the same holds true for drinking and boating. If you are caught operating a vessel while impaired you will also loose your ability to operate your motor vehicle.

Check your Boat – Familiarize yourself with the boat you are operating. Check the condition of your vessel and ensure it is properly prepared for the boating season.

Be Prepared – Mechanical breakdowns account for a significant number of calls for assistance to the Ontario Provincial Police. Most of these embarrassing incidents are preventable by ensuring your vessel is serviceable, you have sufficient gas. Part of being prepared is also making sure that the weather and water conditions are suitable for your day out on the water.

Planning – Remember when things go wrong on the water, it happens very quickly and you don’t always have time to react. A prudent skipper always discusses his or her plans with a family member before they set out.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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