Ontario Boating Fatalities Reach Ten-Year Low but Lack of PFD Use Still Accounts for Majority of Deaths, Says OPP

May 13, 2015

ORILLIA, ON, May 13, 2015 /CNW/ - Boating incidents investigated by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have revealed a ten-year low in boating fatalities, but not wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or lifejacket continues to be a contributing factor in the overwhelming majority of the deaths each year.    

The OPP is partnering with the Canadian Safe Boating Council and other marine safety partners to take part in Safe Boating Week (May 16-22, 2015).  Heading into the campaign, the OPP is sharing facts about boating fatalities in Ontario and asking boaters to do their part to stay safe this boating season.

Last year (2014), 20 people died in boating incidents (on OPP-patrolled waterways) which is the lowest number of marine fatalities the OPP has seen in the last ten years.

While the OPP is pleased to see this general downward trend, it is issuing an important reminder that wearing a lifejacket or PFD significantly increases survivability, should a mishap occur.  Not wearing this equipment continues to be a contributing factor in the overwhelming majority of boating fatalities from year to year, on OPP-patrolled waterways.  

The last five years

2014: 20 boating deaths, 17 of them attributed to not wearing a PFD or lifejacket.
2013: 23 boating deaths, 20 of them attributed to not wearing a PFD or lifejacket.
2012: 22 boating deaths, 18 of them attributed to not wearing a PFD or lifejacket.
2011: 22 boating deaths, 19 of them attributed to not wearing a PFD or lifejacket.
2010: 28 boating deaths, 22 of them attributed to not wearing a PFD or lifejacket.

The differences between a lifejacket and a PFD

While the warmer weather is here, the water is still chilly.  The OPP is reminding boaters that most lakes and rivers, especially those in Northern Ontario are still very cold and the threat of cold water immersion makes the coming long weekend a particularly important time to be prepared and wear that PFD or lifejacket. 

Did You Know?   

There are four phases of cold water immersion (hypothermia is one of them) and each of the four phases pose unique physiological challenges for you when you find yourself in cold water as a result of a boating incident.

When you first enter very cold water, you experience an automatic gasp reflex and if your head is underwater, water may be breathed into your lungs. This is one way drowning occurs. Wearing a PFD or lifejacket keeps your head above water during this critical moment and can save your life.   

Motorized boats are not the only culprits in boating deaths

Last year (2014), five paddling crafts (four canoes and one kayak) were involved in boating fatality incidents investigated by the OPP.  While they are increasing in popularity and a great way to experience the waterways, don't leave your safety on shore...a paddle PFD is your best accessory!

Boat passengers and the public play a role in keeping it a safe and enjoyable boating season

If you are a passenger being invited for a boat ride, take responsibility for your own safety and insist on wearing a PFD or lifejacket. If the driver of the boat does not have one on board for you, do not go out.   

If you suspect that a boater is operating their vessel while impaired, call 911 to make a report. By taking charge of your own safety and taking action against boaters who place you and others in a potentially dangerous situation, you could be averting a tragedy on the water.   

The OPP is counting on everyone being on board with making it a safe boating season in Ontario. 

LEARN MORE

Boat Notes: Your Guide to Boating Safety

Help Us Catch Impaired Boaters

SOURCE Ontario Provincial Police

For further information: Contacts by OPP Region: Highway Safety Division: Sergeant Kerry Schmidt, Phone: (416) 460-4701; Central Region: A/Sergeant Kelly Daniels, Phone: (705) 330-3738; East Region: Sergeant Kristine Rae, Phone: (613) 285-2750; Northwest Region: Sergeant Shelley Garr, Phone: (807) 473-2734; North East Region: Sergeant Carolle Dionne, Phone: (705) 845-2738; West Region: Sergeant Dave Rektor, Phone: (519) 652-4156