Personal Floatation Devices (PFD) are rarely found by Ontario Provincial Police officers when recovering deceased boaters in marine incidents.
The OPP is shedding light on some notable marine fatality facts and engaging the public in helping boaters make wise choices on the water.
Of the 23 boaters who died in OPP investigated marine incidents last year (2013), 20 of them were not wearing PFDs. This has been the trend for the past five years with eight out of 10 victims who died in boating incidents between 2009 and 2013 being found with no PFD (or wearing them incorrectly).
The late arrival of spring has made for a cold start to the boating season. In some areas of the province, open waters remain cold. Cold waters are dangerous and it is especially important to wear a PFD during cold water seasons — it can make an unexpected mishap survivable.
Make sure you are well-dressed and consider taking a few extra warming items on board. Hypothermia is a particularly significant risk right now. Boaters and those working and playing near the water need to remember — the colder the water, the less rescue time there is.
Before heading out, it is important to do a thorough check of your boat and safety equipment and even more important when the waters have just thawed. While the OPP has patrols underway on the water, they are reminding boaters that the unusual spring has delayed many operators and those who run into difficulties may experience delays with police assistance.
OPP statistics are also showing a five-year low in alcohol-related marine fatalities. Four people died in impaired boating incidents in 2013, compared to seven in 2012 and 2011, 14 in 2010 and 13 in 2009. In spite of the decrease, even one life lost due to alcohol use on the water is one too many. The OPP is asking the public to call 911 if they know or suspect that someone is operating a vessel while impaired. In doing so, you could be saving lives.