A busy two days on the waters of the Georgian Bay has prompted the OPP to issue a warning to anyone spending time on the water.
Provincial Constable Elizabeth Newton says police have had to rescue nine people in four separate incidents between June 30 and July 1.
The first three incidents happened last Thursday, all within two hours of one another. It started at 1:30 PM when a patrol unit spotted three paddleboarders. Newton says they were blown away from the shores of Wasaga Beach and ended up two kilometres away from safety. Only one person was wearing a life jacket, according to Newton, and the two people were sharing the same paddleboard.
The patrol unit was able to get them back to safety.
The following incident happened about 30 minutes later in the area of Beachwood Road in Collingwood. Two children, 12 and 13, were blown into the bay on their foam mat toy. Newton says neither was wearing a lifejacket.
On route, police found one child in the water attempting to swim back to shore. The second was still on the toy mat. “Both children were extremely cold and scared,” Newton says.
About an hour later, two adults were reported to be in distress after the inflatable toy they were on blew away from the Northwinds Beach in the Town of Blue Mountains. Neither were wearing lifejackets.
The OPP’s Marine Unit and the Canadian Coast Guard were able to bring the pair safely to shore.
The last incident happened on Canada Day just after noon when two adults on a large pink flamingo toy were blown into the bay near Wasaga Beach. Newton says neither were wearing lifejackets and both are “non-swimmers.”
They were returned to safety.
Newton says if you’re spending any amount of time on the water, you should be wearing a lifejacket. “Know your limitations,” she says. “Set a good example for your children. Life jackets are available to borrow free of charge from any Ontario Parks gatehouse or office at Wasaga Beach.”
She says inflatable toys aren’t a substitute for a lifejacket and should always be secured when not in use.
Newton adds you should check the wind conditions if you’re planning to use an inflatable toy or paddleboard, never go into the water when impaired and always avoid distractions like being on your cell phone.