BAYSAR, police join forces

Let Us See Your PFD initiative

Local boaters are being urged to wear their life jackets, especially this weekend while members of North Bay’s air search and rescue organization conducts flights to survey compliance.

 

The Nugget BAYSAR and North Bay Police Service have teamed up for the Let Us See Your PFD (personal flotation device) initiave.

BAYSAR president Stan French joined Ontario Provincial Police and North Bay Police Service representatives Friday at the city’s waterfront to launch the group’s Let Us See Your PFD (personal floatation device) initiative.

“If people wave to us, we’ll wave back,” said French, advising that two BAYSAR planes will be flying over area waterways during the weekend, including over Lake Nipssing, Trout Lake and Lake Nosbonsing, looking for people wearing their PFDs.

He said the initiative started out as an exercise last year to help determine how visible people are with and without PFDs, and what is the best altitude for spotters.

But French said BAYSAR opted this year to team up with local police to also help promote safety by encouraging boaters to not only have PFDs with them while on the water, but to wear them.

The law calls for a properly fitting PFD for all persons on board a vessel, but it does not require them to be worn at all times. French said the survey last year found only slightly more than 10% of the boaters seen from the air were wearing lifejackets. He said it was more common to see those in a canoe or kayak wearing a PFD.

He said more lifejackets were also spotted on larger waterways such as Lake Nipissing.

He likened the situation to a time when seatbelts in cars weren’t mandatory, hopeful that wearing a PFD will one day be as commonplace, especially now they are more lightweight and comfortable than ever.

OPP Sgt. Tim Sheppard said there is consensus among police across the country that wearing a PFD should be mandatory.

He says officers too often see cases in which drownings could have been prevented if the victims had been wearing the lifejackets that were in the boat.