OPP prepare for boating season – concerns over same contributing factors to water deaths

May 19, 2017 by

opp-boatThe following information was distributed by the OPP.

The Ontario Provincial Police report they have already investigated three boating fatalities this spring, with the same contributing factors being reported as in previous years.

Two of the three fatal incidents involved capsized canoes. During the third mishap, the vessel sank. Alcohol/drug consumption was involved in two of the incidents. Only one of the three deceased was wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) at the time. One victim was a passenger.

These details are all too common in OPP-investigated boating incidents from year to year.

Last year (2016), 16 vessel operators and seven (7) passengers were killed in 19 boating incidents on OPP-patrolled waterways. Nine (9) of the incidents involved a capsized vessel. Six (6) victims fell overboard. Alcohol consumption was a factor in six (6) occurrences.

Few victims were found to be wearing a life jacket - a statistic that has not changed from year to year. The exception was in 2015 when -- for the first time in more than ten years -- all 18 of the deceased were recovered without life jackets.

Fatal Marine Incidents                 2016 2015
Persons Killed 23 18
Persons Killed - No PFDs 19 18

Boaters continue to let their guard down in non-motorized vessels, despite the fact that a significant number of fatal incidents occur in canoes and kayaks every year.

With the launch of Safe Boating Week (May 20-26, 2017) this weekend, the OPP is partnering with the Canadian Safe Boating Council to promote safety on the water.

The OPP is urging boaters to be extra cautious this spring, due to high water levels, swift currents and debris creating hazardous boating conditions.

Whether you are a boat operator or a passenger, consider these facts when heading out on the water in any type of water craft:

Of the 250 people who have died in OPP-investigated boating incidents during the past ten years (2007 to present), 209 were recovered without a life jacket or PFD (includes not properly worn).

As a passenger on a boat, you have a right to speak up if the operator is endangering your life in some way. If you know or suspect that the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, call 9-1-1. By doing so, you could save lives, including your own.

It can take 30 minutes or more for most adults to become even mildly hypothermic in icy waters. If you find yourself in extremely cold water, do not panic and remember that you have some time to make good decisions.