As residents of Black Lake, we all enjoy a variety of activities on and in the water. Swimming, kayaking, power boating and riding jet skis are just some of the ways we recreate during the warm, summer months here. The BLPOA executive would like to encourage everyone to maximize their enjoyment of such activities by reminding everyone to do so safely to avoid needless injury or death.
There are laws and regulations governing boating in Ontario. Foremost, all boaters need to possess a Canada Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) which proves he/she has completed and passed an approved boating safety course. Fortunately, there are several options for taking such a course online and to print off a temporary card upon completion until the permanent card arrives in the mail. A few of these options include:
Once you have passed this course that proves you are familiar with the rules of the waterway and received your card, it never needs to be renewed. However, there are a number of key rules that are worth being reminded of as you venture out onto the lake:
- Always wear a personal flotation device (PFD). The number one cause of boating related fatalities is not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket.
- “Don’t drink and drive” applies to boats as well. Alcohol use is still a major factor in more than 40% of all preventable water-related fatalities, and over half of all power boating accidents.
- Be aware of swimmers, boaters and other objects in, on or near the water. It is your responsibility to avoid hard-to-see people or objects to avoid causing harm to others, to yourself, your passengers or to your boat.
- Slow down near the shoreline. Besides helping to avoid hitting people or objects, your wake can make conditions unsafe for others and cause increased shoreline erosion. The rule is no faster than 10 km/h within 30m from shore.
- Don’t overload the boat! Most boats come with a Compliance Notice or Capacity Plate label indicating the maximum number of persons and/or maximum weight. Also keep in mind this is for fair weather conditions. Following this rule helps you to follow another rule… keep the water on the outside of the boat.
Swimming in Black Lake is a fun way to beat the heat, and we are fortunate that the water quality supports our ability to do this safely. However, there are other risks, but with proper preventative precautions, this is something people of all ages can safely enjoy. Here are a few safety tips that will enable worry-free fun in the water:
- Know the lake’s terrain. Some areas are very shallow – especially in the coves, but the lake floor can suddenly drop off. Using a swimmers’ safety float (a type of PFD) can help swimmers safely navigate where lake depths are unpredictable.
- Using a swimmers’ safety float can help make you be visible to other sea-farers, as well as give you a break to rest and support you if you suddenly develop a cramp.
- Swim with a friend. Two heads are better than one, and this is true in the water as well. If one swimmer has trouble, having a buddy can save a life.
- Supervise the little ones. Children may be used to swimming pools, but there are hazards in the lake not present in pools, such as docks, boats and slippery rocks. Ensure that children know not to go into the water unless an adult is supervising who can give undivided attention. Noodles and blow-up floaties alone aren’t enough to keep them safe.
- Watch out for sharp objects. The serene, clear waters of Black Lake and its sandy bottom can easily hide objects such as shells, hooks or broken glass. If you are cut and bleeding, apply direct pressure with a cloth, and then after the bleeding stops, clean the wound. Seek medical attention if the bleeding won’t stop or if the site becomes infected. Be sure you are up-to-date on your tetanus shots.
- Swim along the shore unless accompanied by a boat. This is closely related to the next one…
- Watch out for boats. Don’t assume that these small-ship captains can see you in the water. Stay out of common lanes that boats use, and be mindful not just of the boats but their wakes.
Attribution: Photos used on this page were posted to the Black Lake Property Owners Association Facebook Group page by group members David Cope, Jonathan Hooper, Bruce Burwell and Mike and Lana Graham, and we thank them for sharing with us.