Canadian Coast Guard and partners prepare for emergency response to 2021 Float Down on the St. Clair River


August 13, 2021

Sarnia, ON - The safety of mariners is one of the Canadian Coast Guard’s top priorities. We work alongside domestic and international partners to provide effective search and rescue services in the Great Lakes.

The Canadian and United States (U.S.) Coast Guards do not condone the annual Port Huron Float Down event, which is on August 15, 2021. As first responders, the Canadian Coast Guard and U.S. Coast Guard recommend that people do not take part in this event. It is an inherently dangerous activity, due to factors including the fast moving current, large number of participants, lack of lifejackets, alcohol consumption, potentially challenging weather conditions, water temperature, and limited rescue resources These factors combined create difficult emergency response scenarios that can result in serious injuries or fatalities. Large crowds of people in close proximity also increases the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Although we don’t recommend participating, 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 someone 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), Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, Transport Canada, and the Ontario Provincial Police. Sarnia Police, RCMP, and Canada Border Services Agency will also be on-shore for standby assistance. 

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.


Regional Communications Branch
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Central and Arctic Region

Lauren Solski
Communications Advisor
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

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