If you are planning on hitting the water before it freezes, you need to take a little more care.

The Canadian Safe Boating Council and Ontario Conservation Officers Association are reminding you to stay safe and follow a few safety tips. This includes:

  • Checking the Weather Forecast: The mixing of warm and cold air can quickly spawn high winds and waves making it treacherous for small boats. Fog is also an issue at this time of year making visibility difficult. Should boaters find themselves in a fog bank, they should proceed slowly and sound their horn at regular intervals to alert other boaters of their presence.
  • Dress for the Weather: Dressing for the water temperature will help slow the onset of hypothermia should the unexpected happen and the boater finds themselves in the water.
  • Wear a Life Jacket
  • Have a Cell Phone or Marine Radio on Hand
  • Make Sure the Boat is Physically and Mechanically Sound: Ethanol-based fuel can allow water contamination in the tank. The use of a fuel additive prevents water in the fuel line from freezing which could cause the engine to chug to a halt. If the boat has portable fuel tanks, it’s a good idea to have a spare on board as a reserve.

The agencies say you should also let someone on land know where you plan on going and when you will be back. This way if you aren’t back they can call authorities to help.

The two groups add that you favourite shallow water fishing holes may be inaccessible at this time of year because of lower water levels. They say you should keep a sharp lookout for debris and chunks of ice that could penetrate the boat’s hull.

CSBC Chair John Gullick says spectacular colours and crisp fall air can make boating a wondrous experience, but boaters need to be extra diligent in their preparations because the cold can pose safety hazards.

COCA President Sean Cronsberry says hunters using a vessel to access their blind or stand and to anglers trying to catch a big fish may be the goal, but making it home safely should be the top priority when on the water.

Click here for more boat safety tips.