Many Torontonians are eager to take to the water when the weather heats up each year, splashing along our many beaches with children or straying further on Lake Ontario in a kayak or motorized boat.

Marine Unit officers want to remind everyone, especially those without a lot of experience maneuvering boats or swimming, to think ahead to stay safe.

Barbara Byers, a past chair of the Canadian Safe Boating Council and the Ontario director for the Lifesaving Society, stressed the importance of safety at the unofficial start of summer – Victoria Day weekend.

The first weekend of the summer, many people are so excited to go boating they forget to check their boats,” she said. Please check it to make sure it's functioning properly and you have all your safety equipment. Some people also forget how to operate their boats. Refresh your memory about the lakes that you are on and check that your vessel is in good working order because things happen over the winter.

Five Safety Tips

1.Wear a life jacket at all times on the boat. It’s the easiest way to stay safe. If you are thrown from a boat, or experiencing hypothermia, you are unlikely to retrieve a life jacket.

Marine officer standing in boat with life vest on

2. Boat Sober. Alcohol and drug impairment are just as dangerous and share the same penalties as on the road. The sun, wind and rolling motion of a boat only intensify the effects of intoxicating substances.

Marine officers in kayaks

3. Prepare your boat. Check wiring, battery life, and that safety equipment is on board. This is especially important at the start of the season when malfunctions can occur during storage.

Boat safety kit

4. Be wary of cold water. Wear a dry suit or be wary of staying in the water long at the start and end of seasons. Lake Ontario is colder than smaller lakes because of its depth as well as the storms that bring colder water to the surface.

Marine officer in wetsuit standing on paddleboard

5. Take a boating course. Brush up your skills or learn about your new vessel whether it be motorized or paddle-driven. However, everyone who operates a power-driven boat must have an Operator Card proving their minimum competency.

Marine unit vessel

Learn More about Safe Boating through Canada's Safe Boating Guide.


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