The first official long weekend of the summer is upon us and police across the province are urging us to make it a safe one.
This is also Safe Boating Week -- from May 19th to May 25th.
Susanne Simic of the Canadian Safe Boating Council says the purpose of the week is to promote safe and responsible boating practices.
Simic says they have five key messages that focus on safe boating, wearing a lifejacket and the dangers of drinking and boating.
Simic adds the water will still be cold at this time of year -- which is another reason to wear a lifejacket.
There are 16 million recreational boaters in Canada.
A Toronto-based personal injury lawyer -- who investigates claims arising from boating accidents that have left people either dead or seriously injured -- is also talking about safe boating.
Dale Orlando tells Bayshore Broadcasting News the word "accident" is used with good reason to describe mishaps on the water.
Orlando says -- just like when you're on the road -- you need to pay attention at all times and not mix drinking with boating.
There are also more cases of distracted boating.
He points out cell-phone coverage now extends fairly far out into the Great Lakes in many places.
The use of GPS units also is more prominent than it was five years ago.
Orlando says both are a source of distraction when operating a boat.
He cautions us to follow common-sense marine safety tips.
Orlando says all occupants regardless of age should wear a life jacket and keep an eye on the weather among other things.
He reminds us 90 per-cent of summer drowning victims in boat mishaps were not wearing a life jacket.
He says he's also dealing with many more cases involving accidents involving personal water-craft.
Orlando says many of those cases involve people showing off and spraying each other on machines like Jet-Skis and Sea-Doos.
He says boats and personal water-craft by their nature handle much differently than land-vehicles and their operators have to keep that in mind.