Summer is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to get out on the water. But before you set sail, it’s important to make sure you are fully prepared and aware of the potential dangers. That’s why every year in May, Canada observes “Safe Boating Awareness Week”. In 2023, Safe Boating Awareness Week will be held from May 20 to May 26. The week is dedicated to spreading awareness about boating safety and encouraging boaters to take the necessary precautions to stay safe on the water.
According to the Lifesaving Society, 80 percent of the people who died while boating in Canada were not wearing a lifejacket. Alcohol consumption was a factor in most boating deaths and accidents in Canada. These statistics alone are a wake-up call to take boating safety seriously.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to stay safe on the water this summer:
1. Wear a properly fitted life jacket: Life jackets are a crucial piece of safety equipment. Make sure you have the right type of life jacket for your activity and check to ensure it fits properly.
According to the Lifesaving Society, most drownings occur within 15 metres of shore. Even if you are an experienced swimmer, accidents can happen, and wearing a life jacket can save your life.
2. Don’t drink and drive your boat: Just like driving a car, alcohol consumption impairs judgment, slows reaction time, and can be dangerous on the water. Not only can you be charged with impaired driving, but you could also lose both your boating and driving license.
3. Know the laws: All operators of powered watercraft in Canada, regardless of the size of the motor, require a Pleasure Craft Operator Card or other proof of competency. Make sure you have your card before hitting the water to avoid receiving a fine.
4. Have a pre-departure checklist: A pre-departure checklist can help ensure you have all the necessary safety equipment on board and that your boat is in good working condition. Make sure to also follow the 1/3 fueling rule, which means one-third of your fuel should be reserved for the trip back to shore.
Safe Boating Awareness Week serves as a reminder to all boaters to prioritize safety while out on the water. By wearing a properly fitted life jacket, avoiding alcohol consumption, having a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, and following a pre-departure checklist, you can reduce the risks and enjoy a safe and memorable boating experience.
Remember that safety on the water is everyone’s responsibility, and it’s important to stay vigilant and informed. By taking boating safety seriously, you can protect yourself, your passengers, and other boaters on the water.