Man in a blue kayak on clear water wearing a PFD.

Our free PARKsmart PFD Lending Program

While swimming, boating and other water activities are a centrepiece of many Ontario Parks adventures, there are also risks associated with these activities.

We want our visitors to stay safe when they hit the waves.

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

Need a PFD?

The PARKsmart PFD Lending Program is carried out at 70 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 Ontario Power Generation , our provincial parks are thrilled to help keep our visitors safe with the PARKsmart PFD Lending Program.

The facts on water safety

Statistics support the necessity of a life jacket: 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 life jacket 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.

Two women on standup paddleboards wearing life jackets.

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 or unfamiliar waters.

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

Be safe, have fun and wear your PFD!