Lake Safety

Frozen or fluid, there are things to keep in mind when enjoying the lake.
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Water Safety

Whether you are powered by limb (swimmer), paddle (stand-up paddle board, kayak, canoe) or motor (powerboat, personal watercraft / jet ski), being visible, 360 degree aware and considerate of your surroundings can mean fun and safety for everyone.

 

HERE ARE A FEW KEY TIPS FOR ALL WATER USERS:

  • Regularly watch for other users and remember: motor gives right of way to paddle; gives right of way to limb.

  • Don’t mix alcohol and drugs with water sports.  Every year in Canada hundreds of people die as a result of boating-related activities. Almost 65% of boating-related deaths involve the use of alcohol.

OPEN WATER SWIMMERS:

  • DON’T swim alone. Maintain close enough contact with a swim buddy(ies) to be able to request assistance or provide aid. A “raised arm” protocol will alert those watching your swim that you require assistance. An accompanying  watercraft is ultimately the best. .

  • Assess your own capabilities. First time open water swimming? Pace yourself. Consider your health status. Heart attacks are the most common cause of drowning with masters swimming in open water.

  • Make yourself seen (wear a fluorescent bathing cap, attach a highly visible safety buoy and/or have boat support).

  • Check the safety of your surroundings, boat traffic patterns, water entry and exit sites. Personal watercraft (jet ski, seadoo) can be a major hazard and deadly.

  • Check local water quality conditions (blue green algae, environmental spills, silt, weed beds).

  • Check weather conditions. A wetsuit is recommended if water temperature is less than 20C, and temperature can vary within a lake. Wind, swells and waves make swimming harder. Do not swim if a thunderstorm is forecast. 

 

PADDLERS:

  • Wear a personalized flotation device (PFD) in/ on your craft. 83% of canoeing fatality victims were not wearing a PFD. Dress for the weather conditions.

  • Be careful with movement and weight shifting. 50% of canoe accidents involved occupant movement and weight shift. Over 50% of canoe and kayak-related accidents occur while fishing!

  • Get off the water during thunderstorms. Out on the water you are the highest point around, making you a perfect lightning rod.

  • Watch and respond to power-boats and personal watercraft wakes appropriately. The biggest hazard will likely be the wave kicked up by powered craft, and the best way to deal with these is to point your watercraft directly into the wave.

 

 

MOTORIZED WATERCRAFT:

  • Have your Pleasure Craft Operating License (PCOC) with you. Commonly known as a boating license, a PCOC is required for all ages, boat lengths and engine sizes (including electric trolling motors). 

  1. Persons under 16 years of age are prohibited from operating a pleasure craft that is above these specified horsepower limits.

    • Persons under 12 years of age who are not directly supervised by a person 16 years of age or older may only operate a pleasure craft propelled by a motor of no more than 10 hp (7.5 kW). 

    • Persons at least 12 years of age but under 16 years of age who are not directly supervised by a person 16 years of age or older may only operate a pleasure craft propelled by a motor of no more than 40 hp (30 kW).

  2. Only persons 16 years of age or older may operate a personal watercraft without supervision.

  3. Have recommended safety equipment on-board (e.g. PFD sized for each passenger, floating rope, flashlight, whistle, manual bailer, paddle or anchor). 

  4. Always have a spotter if towing people or something.

  • What’s in a wave? A wave that is 12.5 cm high when it reaches the shore does not cause significant shoreline damage. Waves this high are created by boats operating at speeds under 10 km/h. A wave that is 25 cm high is four times more destructive than a 12.5 cm wave. 62.5 cm high waves are 25 times more destructive. 

    • Runabouts & waterski boats produce a 25 cm high wave at the stern of the boat when at planing speed. Wakeboard boats create a wake of half a metre (50 cm) or more. The large waves produced by wakeboard boats don’t always have the distance needed to dissipate before reaching shore on many of our lakes. Hence, they can create a greater negative impact on natural and landscaped shorelines than other boats. 

    • Watch your speed and wake. Observe Transport Canada’s unposted speed limit of 10km/h (6 mph) within 30 meters (100 ft) from shore. Optimize boat speed, trim and balance to minimize natural and infrastructure shoreline damage.

 

SOURCES:

Swimming Canada Natation: https://www.swimming.ca/content/uploads/2020/05/OW-Safety-Considerations-individual_May-2020_final.pdf

Paddling: https://paddling.com/learn/basic-canoe-safety

A free course for paddler safety is available at: https://www.boaterexam.com/paddling/canada/

Transport Canada Safe Boating Guide: Safety tips and Requirements for Pleasure Craft: https://tc.canada.ca/sites/default/files/migrated/tp_511e.pdf

Canadian Red Cross Boating Safety Equipment Requirements: https://www.redcross.ca/training-and-certification/swimming-and-water-safety-tips-and-resources/swimming-boating-and-water-safety-tips/boating-safety

Greater Sudbury Police: Boating Safety: https://www.gsps.ca/en/crime-prevention-and-community-safety/rural-safety.aspx#Safety-Tips

For Personal Watercraft Operators: Ontario PWC Boating Regs For Jet Ski Riders https://intrepidcottager.com/ontario-boating-regs/ 

Waterski and Wakeboard Canada Boat Driving Safety Reference Manual: https://waterskicanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/Boat-Driving-Safety.pdf

Watching your Wake: https://foca.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Watching_Your_Wake_for_use_by_other_lakes.pdf 

Jess McShane Photography - 21-02 - Kivi

Ice Safety

We loved seeing so many neighbours enjoying the outdoors this winter, but we urge you to know your lake's trouble spots and take extra caution.

Be aware that natural springs and subsequent water movement slows the freeze and thins the ice in several sections. Areas of concern include the narrows between Cerilli Crescent and Meda Island, and at least two springs along Stewart Drive to be aware of.

 

If you are aware of any other hot spots, please let us know and we'll include them here. Safe playing!

Nepahwin Thin Ice
Ice Safety on the Lake

 

Walking, skating, snowshoeing, skiing, fishing or snowmobiling: all can be exhilarating activities on our beautiful ice-covered Nepahwin Lake in winter. But falling through the ice is not. Practicing ice safety makes sense.

 

The Red Cross advises ice thickness should be:

  • 15 cm (6”) for walking or skating alone

  • 20 cm (8”) (for skating parties or games

  • 25 cm (10”) for snowmobiles.

Ice colour may also indicate its strength. It’s like the sky…clear blue is best, white is maybe OK, grey is not welcoming and can be unsafe.

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Red Cross

Learn more about the dangers of ice and what to do if you get into trouble.

Ice Safety on the Pavement

Ice can also be hazardous on residential property steps, paths and driveways. Here’s some tips from the Salting shift Campaign of the Smart about Salt Council (SASC)®

 

  • Prevent Ice: Direct downspouts away from walkways and driveways and keep eavestroughs and storm drains clear.

  • Clear away the snow first: Mechanically remove the snow as soon as possible with a shovel, snowblower or plow, before it gets packed down and turns to ice. Do not use salt to melt snow; save salt for icy areas only.

  • Create traction: Rock salt doesn’t work below -7 C. Consider using ‘grits’ (e.g. sand, cat litter) when it’s very cold.

  • Break up the ice: Before reaching for the salt, try using a steel ice chopper to break up the ice.

  • Use salt wisely: In many cases, about one tablespoon for one-metre square area (the size of a sidewalk slab) is all you need. Choose a salt or ice melt with a smaller grain, evenly spread it on icy areas only and give it time to work. See the Guide created by the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance for a listing of products and attributes.

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Smart About Salt

Preventing the build-up of ice and snow and using traction aids and ice melts wisely can maintain safety while reducing the negative impact salt can have on facilities and the environment

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Residential Ice Melts + Traction Aids

A list of various products and their comparative costs and environmental effects.
Compiled by the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance.