Visitors to Ontario Parks enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches and waterfronts in Ontario – from the barrier dune formations of Sandbanks to the Caribbean blue waters of Pancake Bay.

While swimming, boating and other water activities are a centrepiece of any Ontario Parks adventure, there are also risks associated with these activities.

To ensure campers and day-trippers stay safe when they hit the waves, and that often means a PFD (personal flotation device)!

Ontario Parks’ PARKsmart

The PARKsmart PFD Lending Program is a water safety program that is carried out at 67 provincial parks . At any of the participating parks, campers can borrow a PFD, FREE of charge.

Ontario Parks Parksmart PDF Lending Program

Initiated in 2003, the goal of this program is to raise awareness of water safety and reduce the risk of drowning or injury related to water activities.

PFDs offered through the program are available to both adults and children, and can be acquired through a parks staff member. Borrowing a PFD will make your trip more safe and enjoyable!

The facts on water safety

Statistics support the necessity of a lifejacket: 95% of drowning victims were not wearing a PFD. Anxiety, waves, clothing and cold water can work against you when found in a dangerous situation.

A PFD is just the beginning to water safety. Following Ontario Parks’ water safety principles will ensure fun and safe activities when in the water.

Water safety principles

Here are some principles of water safety to remember as you visit our parks:

  1. There are no lifeguards on our beaches. Parents, children are your responsibility.
  2. Always supervise children and non-swimmers. Supervise children and have them wear a lifejacket when near the water. Never leave a child alone, even for a moment. This means watching them every second they are in the water. And when water is rough or there is a potential of undertow – STAY OUT!
  3. Have children and non-swimmers wear a PFD when near the water.
  4. Never swim alone. Everyone should always swim with a buddy.
  5. Learn how to swim and learn prevention, water survival and rescue skills.
  6. Offshore winds blow inflatables out into dangerous waters. Use inflatable rafts or toys in shallow water areas only. Swim in towards the shore if you happen to wade out to deeper areas.

ParkSmart PFD lending program. Be ParkSmart — ask an Ontario Parks’ staff about borrwing a PFD today!

Be safe, have fun and wear your PFD!

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