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'Safe travelling': OPP makes a splash with boating awareness week

Any vessel on the water — including paddleboats and canoes — requires all the necessary safety equipment on board, police say
2021-04-15 OPP Marine Unit DMH
OPP Marine Unit file photo

The 2024 Canada Safe Boating Week runs May 18-24. This initiative is designed to increase public compliance with safe boating measures and ultimately, to save lives. The OPP will be looking for impaired driving, carriage requirements for lifejackets and Personal Floatation Devices (PFD's), Liquor Licence Act offences and Canada Shipping Act 2001 offences.

During Safe Boating Awareness Week, boaters and paddlers are encouraged to raise their awareness around every aspect of safe travelling on waterways. Over and above wearing the right lifejacket or personal floatation device and boating sober and drug-free, ensure you and your vessel are prepared and safe for the season, take a boating course, be alert and cold water safe.

Please remember that a properly fitted lifejacket, is not only designed to keep boaters and paddlers afloat, but also helps turn them onto their backs, enabling them to breathe if they are rendered unconscious. For 21 of the 23 people who lost their lives in boating/paddling incidents in 2023, their vessel either capsized or they fell overboard. Seventeen of those who died were not wearing a lifejacket. Surviving these types of incidents usually comes down to whether or not you choose to wear a lifejacket which, when properly worn, stays on task of keeping you afloat the entire time you are in the water.

On those beautiful sunny days, most of us want to get out on the water to use our boats. Just remember that any vessel being underway that has any type of motor, requires the operator to possess a valid Pleasure Craft Operators Card (PCOC) or proof of competency equivalence.

And, any vessel on the water (even paddleboats and canoes) require all the necessary safety equipment on board.

The standard equipment includes:

  • 15m floating heaving line
  • watertight flashlight
  • whistle - *must be Pealess* (or some type of sound signalling device, i.e. horn, or portable air horn, etc.)
  • bailing bucket
  • a paddle or an oar
  • lifejackets or Personal Floatation Devices (PFD's) for every person on board (*self-inflating PFD's must be worn*)
  • and depending on the size of the vessel and motor being used, it may require proper flares and a fire extinguisher

Horsepower and age restrictions:

  • under 12yrs. may operate a boat with up to 10hp
  • 12yrs. - 16yrs. may operate a boat with up to 40hp
  • 16yrs. and older, there are no horsepower restrictions
  • under 16 yrs. regardless of supervision shall NOT operate a Personal Water Craft (PWC): Sea-doo, Jet-Ski, Waverunner

The OPP Marine Program has a fleet of 152 vessels and 365 skilled marine officers committed to enforcing boating laws and the safety of Ontario boaters on more than 110,000 square kilometres (95 per cent) of Ontario's lakes and rivers.

Safe Boating Awareness Week is an annual, national campaign led by the Canadian Safe Boating Council. This year's campaign runs from May 18-24, 2024.

Should you observe a suspected impaired driver, please dial 911 or contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122.