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 June 2009 - Nr. 6

ORILLIA, ON, /CNW/ - The Ontario Provincial Police would like to remind boaters to "Think Safety First" when out enjoying the lakes and rivers of Ontario.

During this time of the year, recreational boating and cold water are a bad mix particularly if smart decisions are not made before heading out onto the water. To enhance your chances of a safe return always ensure to never overload your boat and never go out if foul weather is in the forecast.

Ensure that all occupants are properly wearing their lifejackets or Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) and that the required safety equipment is in the vessel before leaving the dock.

"Tragically we continuously see the failure to wear a lifejacket or PFD as the leading cause for drowning in marine fatalities in situations where there should be a 100% survival rate," said Deputy Commissioner Larry Beechey, Provincial Commander for Traffic Safety which includes responsibility for OPP operations on trails and waterways. "The OPP would like to see mandatory use of PFDs while on board a vessel less than 6 metres."

Lifejackets and PFDs are designed to keep you afloat if thrown overboard.

"It is no use to you if it is in the boat while you are overboard and in the water," stated Sergeant Dave Moffatt, Marine Programs Coordinator for the OPP Highway Safety Division.

Cold water immersion is a major contributing factor to marine fatalities this time of the year. The greater the length of time a boater spend in the water, the less of a chance they will have for a self rescue due to the cold effects the water has on the body. Wearing a lifejacket or PFD in these instances will greatly increase survival times and increase your odds of being able to either being pulled from the water or to swim to safety.

In 2008, the OPP investigated 30 marine fatalities. Over 75% of those fatalities (23) were as a result of people not wearing a lifejacket or PFD.

Already in 2009, on OPP patrolled waterways, 4 people have died in four separate marine incidents, the most recent 2 fatalities occurring this past weekend. In each of these fatalities, the victims had not been wearing a lifejacket or PFD.

Marine fatalities are preventable. Before going out onto the water "Think Safety First" and wear your lifejacket or PFD. It could save your life.

For further information: Sergeant Dave Moffatt, Marine Programs, Highway Safety Division, Phone: (705) 644-1097


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