The warm weather is here and many Ontarians are getting out on the water.
To ensure you have a fun and safe experience, be sure to check out these seven tips for safe browsing:
1. Make sure all safety equipment is packed. before you hit the water
Check that all The safety equipment required by law for your vessel and its size is on board and in good working order. (Pst: you’ll be surprised what you legally need in your canoe!)
These items include life jackets/PFDs for each passenger, a first aid kit, a floating rope, an audible signaling device (such as a whistle*), a rescue bucket, a waterproof flashlight, and an oar or anchor.
When packing your boat, keep these items within reach. Emergencies happen quickly.
Other items that may be helpful include: cell phone, extra sunscreen, water, snacks, and clean, dry clothing.
*Pro tip: Attach your whistle to your life jacket/PFD so you can call for help in an emergency.
2. Always wear a well-fitting life jacket/PFD and make sure everyone else on board is wearing one too.
The risk of cold water immersion is high this time of year. One minute after landing in the water, you won’t be able to swim, so be smart and buckle up.
Whether you are on a motorboat, kayak or SUP board, always wear an APPROVED life jacket or PFD. Check the label: Your life jacket must be approved by Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and/or the Canadian Coast Guard. Don’t forget to check your life jacket for wear, especially rips and tears.
Not sure what the difference is between a PFD and a life jacket? The Canadian Red Cross has the scoop.
No life jacket? Borrow one for free at 70 of our parks.
3. Follow the law and get your navigation license (Motor Recreational Vessel Operator Card)
Transport Canada requires pleasure craft operators to take and pass an accredited course before getting behind the wheel of a boat.
Do you want more information? Check out Transport Canada’s new Safe Boating Guide.
4. Don’t drink while driving (or rowing)
It is illegal and dangerous. Have “water in the water” and save the “beer for the dock.” Drinking while sailing carries the same legal penalty as drinking while driving a car.
5. Plan your trip
Know your route and use official nautical charts. It is also a good idea to complete a trip preparation form, which provides information about your boat (make, year, name, color) and describes your destination, travel route, expected time of return, the names of all people on your boat. group and instructions in case of emergency.
Leave one copy with a person in charge at home and another at the park office.
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the weather. Have a plan to get back to shore in case the water gets rough.
6. Know your boat and its capabilities.
Do you have a new boat? Don’t take it out for the first time in unknown waters. Every boat is different from weight distribution to rough water performance.
7. Questions? Check with Ontario Parks staff before leaving.
If you are unfamiliar with a lake, ask park staff for guidance.
They will be able to tell you dead spots, sandbars and depth restrictions, as well as suggest interesting routes/landmarks.
They will also be able to answer park-specific questions such as “Will my cell phone work in the water?” or “Where is your PFD loan booth?”