man in kayak wearing pfd

Our free PFD Lending Program

Our visitors 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.

We want our campers and day-trippers to stay safe when they hit the waves.

And that starts with a PFD (personal flotation device)!

Be PARKsmart

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

Staff helping paddler,

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!

Thank you to our amazing partners!

Thanks to continued support from Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Ontario Power Generation, BOATsmart, SWIM Guide and the Canadian Red Cross, our provincial parks are thrilled to help keep our visitors safe with our PARKsmart PFD Lending Program.

Special welcome and thanks this year to two new partners: Salus Marine and Stearns!

PARKsmart poster. Image of PFD. Text: PARKsmart PFD Lending Program. Be safe around the water. Always wear a PFD! Ontarioparks.com/pfdlending. Partner logos

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.

A Learn to Fish employee teaching children to fish

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.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

7. Be responsible. Avoid alcohol when involved in water-related recreational activities. A non-alcoholic beverage, especially water, will keep you hydrated.

8. Protect your neck. Never dive into shallow water from docks or shallow water. Also avoid diving into unfamiliar waters.

9. If you suspect a drowning or any other type of water emergency, call 911 and/or contact the Park Office immediately.

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

Be safe, have fun and wear your PFD!