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RCMP boats keep Manitoba waters safe

Click to play video: 'Operation Dry Water takes over West Hawk Lake' Operation Dry Water takes over West Hawk Lake
WATCH: RCMP boats were on patrol across the province over the August Long Weekend as part of Operation Dry Water – Aug 6, 2018

If you were out at the lake over the August Long Weekend, you may have noticed a few more boats than usual.

The RCMP’s Operation Dry Water campaign was in effect on lakes across the province, with officers patrolling the waters to help keep boaters safe.

“We have lots of lakes in Manitoba,” said Staff Sgt. Bob Chabot, who was patrolling on West Hawk Lake all weekend. “They’re getting more and more busy every year. We lose several Manitobans every year to drowning and boating accidents so we want to really reduce that number and have everyone get home safe at the end of the day.”

READ MORE: Most boating and drowning deaths involve drinking, says Lifesaving Society

Chabot said there is a long safety checklist that boaters should be mindful of.

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“We’re looking for the documentation, their operator’s card and license, and then a sounding device, either whistle or an air horn, so that if you’re in distress you can alert somebody around you,” he said.

Officers also inspect life jackets and check if there is a fire extinguisher in the boat.

RCMP boats keep Manitoba waters safe - image
Nolan Kowal / Global News

Chabot said about 90-95 per cent of the boaters he comes across don’t comply with all safety regulations, however some violations may be as minor as not having their operator’s card or license in the boat with them. Some are more serious–Chabot had to send one group of boaters back to shore Monday afternoon because they did not have enough safety equipment in their boat.

Some fines can rise as high as the six thousand dollar range.

He said most boaters are receptive to the safety message.

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“Ninety-nine point nine per cent of the people we see on the water are glad to see us, they’re cooperative, they’re happy,” he said.

READ MORE: Winnipeg man killed in long weekend boating accident

Chabot said officers are also on the lookout for alcohol.

“It seems to be compounded, the effects of alcohol and drugs, in a boat rather than in a vehicle,” he said. “A vessel is a lot more susceptible to wind conditions, wave conditions, the sun has an effect on you as well, so there really is no place for alcohol in boating or for drugs in boating.

Operation Dry Water is a Canada-wide campaign.

Chabot said patrol boats will be on the lakes until they freeze this winter.

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