As boating season approaches, OPP are urging safety first

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Police want boaters to remain safe while on the water by wearing a life jacket at all times

The boating season may just be getting underway, but the Ontario Provincial Provincial are already emphasizing the importance of taking precautions to ensure people enjoy being on the water safely.

Boating fatalities in Ontario hit an eight-year high of 31 in 2017, compared to 23 in 2016, according to numbers gathered by the OPP.

By law, every boat in Ontario must carry a life-jacket or personal floatation device for each person on board.  They do not have to be worn while on the water but should be readily available in an emergency.

READ MORE: Water safety expert shares tips during National Drowning Prevention Week

The OPP say the outcome could have been different for 42 of the drowning victims over the past two years as they either were not wearing personal floatation devices or were not using them properly.

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Const. Ivars Krumins, with the OPP’s Central Region Marine Unit, says life-jackets come in several sizes for adults and children and adds it’s important that the life-jackets are the right size.

He says ideally, they should be worn at all times.

“That’s where fatalities occur, where people don’t have life-jackets or they’re not wearing life-jackets,” Krumins said.

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According to Krumins, most boating fatalities involve smaller craft like canoes and rowboats.  Operators of larger powerboats are required to take a test and obtain the mandatory pleasure craft operators card.  Gina Lee, with the Peterborough Power and Sail Squadron, thinks those who go out on the water in a canoe or similar small craft would benefit from obtaining the card.

“You learn things like what the buoys in the water mean, how to read the signs on the shoreline, how to read the water a little bit, what to do in an emergency, what to do in case of hypothermia,” Lee said.

Penalties for not having life-jackets for all those on board a boat start at $200 for one person and go up by $100 for each missing life-jacket.