OPP say boating fatalities on on OPP-patrolled waterways hit an eight-year high in 2017, with 31 people losing their lives last year, compared to 23 deaths in 2016.

As the long weekend begins, OPP sent out the message Friday that it is partnering with the Canadian Safe Boating Council to promote safety on the water.

Falling overboard is the leading cause of boating deaths for both years. The outcome could have been different for 42 people who were found not (or not properly) wearing a personal floatation device over the two-year period, police say.

Whether you are a boat operator or a passenger, OPP say consider these facts when heading out on the water in any type of watercraft:   

·      Wear a personal floatation device or lifejacket

·      Don't operate any watercraft while impaired

·      Obtain relevant licencing

·      Ensure you have all the required safety equipment

·      Ensure your watercraft is water ready

·      Be wary of the dangers of cold water immersion (especially this time of year)