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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Recent accident that left men in water didn't have to happen

Experts floating tips for paddlers; Recent accident that left men in water didn't have to happen.

Two young Keswick men are fortunate to have escaped injury, after their canoe capsized in Lake Simcoe Sunday. But if they had followed some basic safety tips, authorities say, this accident could have been prevented. The South Simcoe police marine unit was called to an area between Lefroy's Kon-Tiki Marina and the Holland Canal in Bradford on Sunday afternoon, after two men in their early 20s were pulled from the lake. The pair had been floating in the water for nearly an hour before being rescued by a boater after their canoe capsized. The men had been canoeing near Keswick when they noticed the craft began filling with water, and eventually abandoned it. An investigation revealed that no personal floatation devices, life-jackets or other safety equipment were on board the canoe, with the exception of two wooden oars, said the marine unit's Sgt.
Bob Eeles. "Basically, it's common sense," he said. "They failed to put on life-jackets and their eight-foot canoe had some problems. The canoe appears to have been repaired several times, there were metal plates and rivets in several places. "Certainly, this was preventable." Experts say there are several things kayakers and canoers should have in their water crafts before heading out on a waterway. Several police organizations have stepped up marine patrols this summer, meaning violators could face fines and charges. Of course, canoers and kayakers who do not carry the necessary equipment are also risking their lives, says Ashley Goodyer, manager of West Marine in Barrie. He recommends canoers and kayakers purchase a personal floatation device, life-jacket, or paddling vest, first aid kit, waterproof flashing light, whistle, signal horn, throwing line, manual propelling device (oar), and bailing bucket, most of which are mandated by government legislation. "These aren't things that you just actually need, these are mandatory things that you must have," Goodyer said. "A lot of kayakers think they're in shallow water and don't need all that stuff, but look what happened. You're a mile off shore and your (water craft) capsized." He also says waterproof two-way high frequency radios and GPS systems can aid rescue efforts, allowing for better communication between emergency crews and stranded boaters. People often complain about wearing life-jackets, or taking safety equipment on their journeys, especially since kayaks and canoes are rarely taken far from shore. However, the incident this weekend shows the risks outweigh the comfort, Goodyer said. The Keswick canoers were charged with offences related to water safety, and given information on government boating regulations. Life-jacket checklist Is it Canadian approved? Will it support the person it was made for? Are all the snaps, belts, ties, tapes and/or zippers on your life-jacket or PFD in good condition? Is it easy to put on and take off? Can you move your arms freely when wearing it? Does it let you bend at the waist? Can you see the ground at your feet and walk over obstacles easily? Does it keep your head above water? Relax in the water face down. Does your life-jacket roll you to a face-up position? Can you swim and manoeuvre easily in the water? Have you attached a whistle?

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