Sarnia, Ontario – The Canadian and United States Coast Guards do not condone the annual Port Huron Float Down event, which is on August 16, 2020. As first responders, the Canadian Coast Guard and U.S. Coast Guard recommend that people do not take part in this event. Large crowds of people in close proximity also increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.
If you choose to participate, you are strongly encouraged to take several precautions:
- Wear a properly fitting, approved life jacket or personal floatation device. Not wearing a life jacket is one of the leading causes of drowning-related deaths in Canada.
- Bring a paddle. The St. Clair River’s fast moving current isn’t suitable for uncontrollable crafts. Paddles will help you steer and can also be used as a signaling device.
- Be prepared with a float plan. Tell people where you’re going and have a way to contact people.
- Don’t go alone. It’s important to have a buddy with you. Time is of the essence in a drowning situation.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Floats can collapse in an instant; you need full faculties if your float capsizes.
- Bring a communications device, like a cell phone, and secure it in a waterproof container.
- Mark your float with your name and cell phone number in waterproof ink to help first responders track you down. An empty floatation device signifies to first responders that someone may be missing. Take your float with you when you exit the River.
- If you see another person who needs help or is in distress, notify a first responder as soon as possible.
- Wear a face mask if physical distancing is not possible.
Both Coast Guards will be on-site and are working closely with local first responders to ensure a co-ordinated response to emergencies throughout this year’s event. Canadian on-water response partners are the Sarnia Fire Department, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the Ontario Provincial Police. Sarnia Police, RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency will also be on-shore for standby assistance.
Under the authority of Transport Canada, vessel traffic restrictions will be in effect on the day of the event from noon to 8 p.m. due to the risk of a motorized vessel colliding with a floater.
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard