Haldimand County, OPP, GRCA Encourage Water Safety

Haldimand County, OPP and the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) encourages all local residents and visitors to the County to take personal responsibility and make water safety for themselves and their children a priority this summer. It is extremely important for everyone to be aware of safe boating and swimming practices while enjoying the waterways in Haldimand County.

On Tuesday June 8, 2021 at 2:53 p.m., OPP responded to the dam area of the Grand River in Caledonia for a report of a dangerous condition. A concerned passerby noticed a group of youths walking along and swimming in the dam area.

Investigation revealed the youths entered a prohibited area, marked by red and white danger signs, and into the water. Fortunately no one was injured and all parties were accounted for. Tragedy can happen very quickly and the danger of the waters should never be underestimated.

Every year, emergency service personnel respond to many marine related calls including stranded boaters, people fishing or swimming in unsafe areas. Many times, misadventure can lead to tragedy.

It can’t be stressed enough that everyone using the waterways understand the importance of not swimming or boating in prohibited areas. The dam areas in Dunnville and Caledonia are often used by individuals but the water conditions are extremely dangerous.

’Run of the river’ dams, like those in Caledonia and Dunnville may not be as visible from upstream and pose a great risk to river users who disregard warning signs. Like larger dams, low-head dams can also create an underwater recirculating current downstream that is nearly impossible to escape. This current can be so strong that it has the ability to pull people under water, even while wearing a lifejacket. Never swim, walk on, fish, or boat near these dams.

GRCA dams are marked by red and white danger signs. There are also fences, buoys and booms warning you to keep out. You should always:

  • Stay a safe distance outside of the marked danger areas when fishing, boating and swimming
  • Stay off all dams. Use only approved walkways or observation areas.

All parents and caregivers are encouraged to speak with their children about water safety and the dangers of prohibited areas.

The prevention of drownings requires law enforcement efforts and public education but most importantly, prevention starts with you.

There is no one single cause that leads to drownings but there are common contributors. Basic safety practices such as learning to swim at an early age; wearing a lifejacket or a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while on a vessel or in water; adult supervision of children while swimming; and not drinking and boating can make the difference between surviving, or not.

OPP is also reminding all boaters to ensure they have all of the required safety equipment on board as well as all the required documents to operate a vessel.

For more information about dam safety, visit the GRCA’s website at www.grandriver.ca/en/our-watershed/safety-around-dams

For more information regarding water safety, visit the Lifesaving Society website at www.lifesavingsociety.com/water-safety

For more information on boating safety, visit the Transport Canada website at www.tc.gc.ca/boatingsafety