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)!

kids in lifejackets

Ontario Parks — in partnership with Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Ontario Power Generation, BOATsmart, SWIM Guide and the Canadian Red Cross — continues to deliver the PARKsmart PFD Lending Program.

Program mandate and info

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.

DriftwoodPP Lifejacket Lending July 2015 Evan Holt

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!

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.

Docks and lifejacket lending sign at DriftwoodPP July 2015 Evan Holt

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.
  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.
  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.

Lifejacket Lending at DriftwoodPP July 2015 Evan Holt

Be safe, have fun and wear your PFD!