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Cold water a concern for boaters

Friday, May 16, 2014   by: Kenneth Armstrong

People anxious to get out on the water this Victoria Day weekend should be extra careful due to cold water temperature, says the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

OPP say that although they will be conducting patrols on the water, the unusual spring weather has delayed many of their operations, which may cause a delay with police assistance and makes it especially important for boaters to wear a personal floatation device (PFD).

A thorough check of your boat and safety equipment should always be done, but is even more important given the cold water conditions, said the OPP.

Wawa-based canoe and kayak instructor Ray Boucher takes his precautions one step further, adding a complete drysuit when boating in cold water.

The insulation of the suit prevents the initial cold shock, said Boucher, who also wears a PFD over top.

Boucher said he dresses for the water temperature, not the air temperature.

“You have a nice warm day and you’re walking around in your short-sleeved shirt and think ‘let’s go out for a paddle’ but it’s just not the same,” said Boucher.

Michigan Sea Grant extension educator Ron Kinnunen recently penned an article on the Michigan State University Extension about the importance of wearing a PFD, especially in cold water.

“Many people complain that they do not like to wear a personal floatation device because they are bulky and, because of the bulkiness, they are hard to fish in. This may have been true in years past, but modern personal floatation devices are not as bulky and some are made to only inflate when in contact with the water,” Kinnunen wrote.

The OPP reported Thursday that of the 23 boaters who died in 2013, a total of 20 of them were found not wearing a PFD.

It can be extremely difficult to swim in cold water, even the best swimmers can lose coordination and manual dexterity, develop muscle spasms and rigidity and ultimately lose consciousness, wrote Kinnunen.

Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
S.M.A.R.T. 5/16/2014 1:58:05 PM Report

If the public at large needs to be told that waterways have cold water in the middle of May in Canada and that falling into cold water at this time of year is not likely to turn out well, then woe begotten are we all. GIVE IT A REST!!!
Nunavut 5/16/2014 2:18:29 PM Report

When they start making it mandatory to wear a life jacket.........then they better start making it mandatory on cruise ships and even walking around a back yard swimming pool, because sometimes there is no risk. It should be left up to the boater when to decide that the waves are getting too high or the speed to fast , or rapids to quick.
Otherwise sitting in a quiet bay with a fishing rod in my hand is no more risky than sitting in a cruise ship, with plenty of time to put it on if risk approaches. So the deceptive use of statistics that do not explain the actual circumstances (eg head on collisions with jet skis ). But meanwhile knowing the insurance leverage on society we soon will be wearing life jackets in the hot tub and swimming pools of the nanny state Ontario.

Slim Shady 5/16/2014 2:19:19 PM Report


Not all people have good judgement and then there are those who have a lapse in judgement. Although I believe in Darwinism (just kidding), if a public announcement such as this saves just one life it is worthwile and you should not discourage it.

Everytime I hear of a boating fatality I get angry when I hear that the person wasn't wearing a PFD. What a unneceesary risk and a waste of a life.

Be safe people - always. Your loved ones depend on you!
Slim Shady 5/16/2014 2:24:30 PM Report

@ Nunavut

Sitting on a boat in still water with no life jacket is one thing, however driving your boat without one on is another. Common sense should prevail. It is the law to have a PFD for everyone aboard. The law doesn't force you to wear it.

If you capsize your boat in still water (while you are sitting on the deck)barring you don't hit your head you can still survive if your PDF is floating beside you. If you are dumb enough to bring one you had better hope that you are strong enough to climb ontop of the boat.

these days theymake a variety of PFD jackets and inflatable collars so unobtrusive that you can't tell that you are wearing one. Really there is no excuse.
Nunavut 5/16/2014 2:37:01 PM Report

Thanks for the insult to my intelligence Slim.....but I see you have bought into the skewed statistics that your nanny states wants you to think.

Its called common sense, we seem to have lost it and now require our government to force it down the throat of those that already have it !

So make sure you wear that life jacket in your bathtub this weekend might slip and fall and drown in that 4 inches of water. .....and while your at it.... make sure you wear that bike helmet when you cross the street, more than 500 pedestrians were killed in Canada and 499 of them were not wearing a must mean we should all be wearing one !
Bad Dawg 5/16/2014 2:51:51 PM Report

500 people hit and 1 person was wearing a helmet and still died?? doesn't make much sense to wear a helmet..... and there is no more common sense due to the statistics of drunk driving, texting and driving, domestic abuse.... need I go on. I am a believer that pfd will save your life but only if its on!!
Slim Shady 5/16/2014 2:59:35 PM Report


I wasn't trying to insult your intelligence or for that matter trying to offend you.

On second thought, in light of your condescending rebuttal – continue not wearing safety equipment! Do the world a favour when you capsize. After all, accidents don’t happen to you right? Events beyond your control never happen do they?!

Have a safe long weekend.

Frio 5/16/2014 4:08:42 PM Report

Where the 2 fellows that died just before easter weekend in Blind River wearing any kind of life jackets? I would think not if the police divers spent 3-4 days looking for the one victim. Nunavut knows he is invincible and nothing unexpected will ever happen to him. His common sense tells him if he ends up in the lake his life jacket will conveniently float up right in his hand just in case he needs it.
Powerwise 5/16/2014 5:40:42 PM Report

Most of the boaters I see would be doing a great service to humanity by covering just a few more square inches of their upper bodies.

Just saying!
S.M.A.R.T. 5/16/2014 6:14:32 PM Report

I've made it clear to the powers that be that mandatory lifejackets is a NO GO! I've been boating for several decades, and I mean many many decades, and rarely have I worn a lifejacket. After hundreds, if not a thousand plus hours of boating without wearing a lifejacket I'm still here and NEVER have I come close to thinking, "Oh gee, am I ever sorry I don't have a lifejacket on". Idiots are idiots, with or without a lifejacket, SO SPARE ME! People who rarely or never boat have NO SAY and regular boaters who see a need for mandatory lifejackets ARE IDIOTS. CASE CLOSED on that front!!!

And then there's the PLEASURE CRAFT OPERATOR CARD. What an insult to me and my pocketbook! A joke and a cash grab. I learned NOTHING new in qualifying for this document, but the busy bodies got their way. Now a Canadian citizen who is a seasoned boater needs proof of competency while juveniles and others from outside the country get by with minimal screening and proof of competency. WHAT A JOKE. The nanny state indeed. Stay out of my life and quit trying to micro manage it.
old-cat33 5/16/2014 7:00:26 PM Report

Nunavt: Did you ever watch when they drag a lake or river bed for a body? And knowing if that person was wearing a PDF he would still be living?
S.M.A.R.T. 5/16/2014 7:08:28 PM Report

Yes, and if they outlawed the sale and drinking of booze and put maximum 80 km/h (50 mph) speed limiters on all road vehicles, think of the carnage that would be avoided. The list can go on and on, so once again, GIVE ME A BREAK!!!
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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