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Sudbury Public Heath, OPP join forces to stress water safety

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The Sudbury health unit issued a seasonal water safety warning ahead of the May long weekend.

An undated photo of the east shore of Fairbank Lake, west of Sudbury. (File photo/Supplied/Northern Ontario Travel/Photo Credit: Fairbank Lake Resort)

With the arrival of warm weather amid the first long weekend of cottage season, officials with Public Health Sudbury & Districts (PHSD) are reminding those that enjoy spending time on and around lakes, rivers and streams to “Be water safe! Be water smart!”

In 2021, there were six deaths from injuries due to drowning and submersion in the Sudbury region and in 2022, eight people were sent to area emergency departments due to a near-drowning or other submersion injuries according to the health unit.

Knowing how to be safe and smart in and around the water can save lives, said the news release.

Northern Ontario has hundreds of lakes and rivers and is perfect for outdoor adventure but officials said people need to be aware of risk.

“Our service area has the largest freshwater island in the world, Manitoulin Island,” said public health nurse Stephanie Gray in the news release on Thursday.

“We are also fortunate to live among many lakes and rivers and are reminding people to be prepared and aware of the risks, whether boating, swimming, or simply enjoying the shoreline.”

Iain McGale, acting staff sergeant with the Sudbury Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) said the province is looking to boost water safety and boaters can expect to see increased enforcement on the water.

“The Ontario government is taking steps to increase the safety of anglers on the waterways this summer,” he said.

“Conservation officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be out patrolling the waterways ensuring compliance with public safety and natural resource laws.”

Public health said to be safe on the water, remember to prepared and offered several tip;

  • Wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD) when out on the water,
  • always keep children within arms-reach,
  • always boat and swim and
  • always swim with a friend or with someone nearby.

Public health recommended individuals download the Boat Notes app from the Canadian Safe Boating Council.

The news release advised people to plan ahead for boating trips; know the weather, know the safety information and know the rules.

In a social media post Friday, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) stressed their hope for a safe summer on Manitoulin Island and across northern Ontario and echoed many much of the health unit’s advice, such as checking the weather before boating or swimming and ensure everyone has an “appropriately sized” lifejacket or PFD onboard when boating.

“Operating a boat while impaired by alcohol, cannabis or other drugs is against the law,” said police, in the post.

Manitoulin Partners for Water Safety is a collaborative effort between several municipalities on Manitoulin Island, OPP, Assiginack Family Health Team, Mnaamodzawin Health Services, Manitoulin-Sudbury DSB Paramedic Services, MNRF and PHSD to improve water safety on Manitoulin Island.

For more information on water safety, visit phsd.ca/safety or call Public Health Sudbury & Districts toll-free at 1-866-522-9200. 

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