Close by isn’t close enough.
That’s the message the OPP and coast guard want to deliver to boaters and jet skiers this weekend, imploring the public to wear lifejackets when on the water.
The failure to heed the call has already cost six people their lives in Northwestern Ontario this summer, unnecessary deaths said OPP spokeswoman Const. Diana Cole.
“Our underwater search and recovery officers have indicated that all of the drowning victims that they have recovered have not been wearing lifejackets or personal floatation devices. So wear it,” Cole said. “To have it in the boat and not on doesn’t make any sense. Put it on.”
While not illegal not to wear one, they do save lives, Cole added.
And they aren’t the bulky lifejackets of the past, she said.
“There are so many different styles of lifejackets right now. They’re in bright colours. There are styles for every activity out there – boating, canoeing kayaking, for sea-doos. There’s no reason anyone shouldn’t have one on when they’re out there on the water.”
Even the most cautious boater can wind up in trouble in a hurry.
“Anything can happen in a matter of seconds. And that doesn’t allow you enough time to grab your lifejacket to put it on,” Cole said. “And we know that for a fact, that’s in many of the circumstances involving drowning deaths.”
As the holiday weekend hits, police are also reminding boaters to leave the booze behind.
Operation Dry Water was put in place to remind the public that it’s just as dangerous to drink and boat as drinking and driving.
“And the penalties are the same,” Cole said.
Penalties include fines, the potential loss of your driver’s licence and possibly even jail time.