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Ontario Provincial Police say they plan to be extra vigilant as the Labour Day weekend descends on Thunder Bay.
They’ll be out in full force in the region’s roadways and waterways and have an age-old message for boater and drivers – be responsible when alcohol is involved.
OPP Staff Sgt. Jim Graham on Friday said five drowning deaths this summer, all involving alcohol at some level, are five too many and in most cases were preventable.
“We’re most interested that people are enjoying themselves for the weekend. We don’t want people to have to deal with needless tragedy, the same as we’ve had to other times this summer,” Graham said.
“We’re hoping everyone has the common sense and foresight to be wearing flotation devices. Put a lifejacket on. It doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s in the boat when the boat flips over.”
It doesn’t matter how strong a swimmer one might think they are, the unexpected can happen when a boat overturns. One might hit their head on a rock, or currents might be too much to handle.
The lifejacket provides a fighting chance and buys time until help arrives.
Booze and lakes and rivers can be a deadly combination, he added.
“If people are going to be on the waster an playing around the water, it’s best to keep in mind that alcohol and water don’t mix that well. Most of the incidents this summer were unfortunate incidents or bad judgments.”
The long weekend is summer’s last hurrah for many people, with school starting up next week and vacations coming to an end.
Graham said police want everyone to make it through the weekend alive and well.
“We’ll be looking for distracted driving on the highways. We’re pushing this weekend that our passengers in our car take some responsibility too and try to convince drivers to put down their cell phones and put down the electronic devices while they’re driving their car and try to keep everybody safe,” he said.
“The message from the OPP is we want everybody to get home safe, so we’ll be out there looking for (drinking and driving) as well as seatbelts and aggressive driving.”
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