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Safe Boating Awareness Week: wear a lifejacket when on the water

Ontario Provincial Police marine unit (OPP_CR/Twitter) Ontario Provincial Police marine unit (OPP_CR/Twitter)

After 23 fatalities on our rivers and lakes last year, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are sending out a distress signal ahead of the Victoria Day long weekend.

Most of the 23 marine fatality victims were not wearing life jackets.

The number of lives that could be saved if every boater and paddler wore a lifejacket during every boat ride is not difficult to measure when looking at OPP data associated with fatal boating/paddling incidents.

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, will keep you afloat the entire time you are in the water.

With approximately half of last year's marine fatalities involving kayaks, canoes and other non-motorized vessels, paddlers are reminded that they are just as vulnerable when it comes to capsizing or falling overboard without a lifejacket.

Police say with these two primary causes accounting for the majority of OPP-investigated marine fatalities every year, a large number of boaters/paddlers would have likely survived their ordeal on the water had they worn a lifejacket.

Alcohol/drug-use and collisions with other vessels or fixed objects remain other lead contributing factors in marine deaths on our waterways.

The OPP Marine Program has a fleet of 152 vessels and 365 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.

During Safe Boating Awareness Week, May 18 to 24, boaters and paddlers are encouraged to raise  awareness about every aspect of safe traveling on waterways. Top Stories

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