As we gear up for the Victoria Day long weekend marine units throughout the GTA are kicking off North American Safe Boating Awareness Week.
On Thursday at the Toronto Police Marine Unit a number of demonstrations were set up to show visitors and the media the importance of boat safety. One of the demos centred on cold water awareness and the effects cold water can have on the body. Constable Richard Baker of the Marine Unit said that even though the temperature is rising the waters in Southern Ontario are still very cold.
“A very high percentage of the drownings here in this country are caused by cold water shock or cold water emersion.”said Constable Baker who adds that the shock of the cold alone can make people start sucking in water. “After that you’ve got about ten minutes before you start losing your motor skills. All the blood is going to start rushing out; your muscles are going to start to get weak. You’re going to lose the use of your hands and legs, which is why we really advocate wearing a life jacket or a PFD (Personal Floatation Device). If you’ve got those on, you’ve got a fighting chance because it’s going to keep you above water.”
Canadian Red Cross workers were also on hand to show people how to properly fit their life jacket to ensure it doesn’t slip off over your head when you enter the water.
But before you even hop into your boat Rick Bee, Commander of the Town of Oakville Water Air Rescue Force says you should make sure your boat in good operating condition.
“It’s very important especially after a long-time sitting and not being used that you get it properly checked out. Make sure that you’re up on all of the maintenance. Make sure all of your systems on board are working and functioning properly. Make sure all of your safety equipment is up to par. Make sure you replace the batteries in all of your handheld electronics.”said Commander Bee.
Bee says it’s also a good idea to let someone on shore know where you are going and when you should be back.
MADD Canada members were also on hand for the kick-off to encourage everyone to save the drinking for after the boat ride.