Water safety message this weekend: "Stay Clear! Stay Safe"

Aug 25, 2008

    TORONTO, Aug. 25 /CNW/ - With Labour Day Approaching, The Ontario
Provincial Police (OPP) and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) are reminding
people to exercise extreme care around Ontario waterways, particularly those
that are near hydroelectric stations and dams.
    "Our message is: Stay Clear! Stay Safe! A few simple precautions can make
the difference between a wonderful summer day and a tragedy," said John
Murphy, OPG's Executive Vice President Hydroelectric. "This summer has had
above average rainfall, so rivers and lakes all have more water than would be
normal for late August," he added.
    OPP Acting Staff Sergeant Karen Harrington added: "We've had too many
marine tragedies this summer. People need to keep safety as a top priority
when boating or swimming. Personal flotation devices should be worn while
boating, and drinking and boating don't mix. People should avoid swimming in
water they are unfamiliar with." Harrington noted that the OPP has
investigated a number of incidents involving boaters and swimmers who have
drowned needlessly on Ontario waterways
    Most hydroelectric facilities are remotely controlled by operators who
may be kilometers away. To meet the fluctuating demand for electricity
throughout the day, these operators open or close dams or start or stop
generators as needed. This causes frequent and rapid changes in the water flow
and levels often creating strong undertows, turbulence and sudden, powerful
gushes of water moving downstream in what was once calm looking surface water.
    All waterways where an OPG dam or hydroelectric station is located have
well-positioned warning signs, buoys, fences, booms and barriers. "We urge
everyone to obey these warning signs and barriers," Murphy said. "They are
there for the public's safety and to let everyone know that the areas around
the signs are dangerous, so stay clear."
    Harrington also recommends that people stay away from the edge of
waterways where footing may be slippery; do not wade into moving water; be
aware of changing water levels or any sign of increased currents and always
stay a safe distance outside of warnings and barriers.
    OPG offers the public a number of educational materials on water safety
around dams and hydroelectric stations including a brochure, a DVD for adults
and an educational interactive computer game for children. The OPP and OPG
also have a television ad that warns people to stay clear, and stay safe near
hydroelectric dams and stations. You can view the ad, or request free
educational materials by visiting www.opg.com

For further information:

For further information: OPG MEDIA CONTACT: Media Desk - 1-877-592-4008
or (416) 592-4008; OPP MEDIA CONTACT: Sgt Dave Harker, Ontario Provincial
Police, Marine Programs, Office: (705) 329-6148, Cell: (705) 828-4500