Safe Boating Awareness Week

A Guide to Boating Safety in Canada

As we approach Safe Boating Awareness Week, May 18 -24, 2024, it’s important to remember that safety is the cornerstone of an enjoyable boating experience. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a weekend enthusiast, adhering to safe boating practices is essential for everyone on the water.


Startling Statistics: A Closer Look at Boating Safety in Canada

Boating, an activity enjoyed by over 16 million Canadians, carries inherent risks. Alarmingly, a significant number of recreational boating fatalities in Canada arise from preventable causes. According to the Drowning Prevention Research Centre’s most recent report on Recreational Boating-Related Fatalities in Canada, over 80% of individuals who died as the result of a recreational boating-related incident were not wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or lifejacket at the time of the incident.

Furthermore, alcohol consumption plays a role in nearly 40% of boating deaths, often exacerbated by environmental factors like sun and wind. Cold water also poses another serious threat, leading to cold water shock or hypothermia, which can swiftly incapacitate a person.


These statistics serve as a crucial reminder of the inherent risks in recreational boating and underscore the need for being safety aware on the water.

8 Essential Boating Safety Tips

Here are 8 essential boating safety tips to help keep you safe this boating season:


1. Always Wear A Life Jacket

Statistics show that many boating fatalities in Canada could have been prevented if a life jacket was worn. Always ensure every passenger has a life jacket that fits properly and is in good condition. Make wearing them a non-negotiable rule, especially for children and non-swimmers.

2. Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix


Operating a boat under the influence is not only illegal – it also impairs judgment and increases the likelihood of accidents. Stay sober while boating to ensure you can react quickly and make sound decisions.

3. Stay Informed About Weather and Water Conditions


Check the weather forecast before heading out and be prepared for changes. Understanding the local water conditions, including currents and tides, is also essential. If you’re boating in colder waters, be aware of the risks of hypothermia and dress accordingly.

4. Understand Your Boat

Familiarize yourself with your boat’s operations and maintenance. Know where the safety equipment is stored and how to use it. Regular checks and maintenance can prevent many issues that might arise on the water.

5. Planning and Communication

Plan your route and share it with someone onshore. This simple step can be crucial in emergencies. Also, keep communication devices like a VHF radio or a cell phone in a waterproof container for emergencies.

6. Safe Boating Education

Get educated by getting your Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). The PCOC demonstrates a basic understanding of boating safety rules and navigation. Even experienced boaters can benefit from this course as a refresher.

7. Responsible Boating Behavior

Be mindful of other water users and respect no-wake zones. Keep a safe distance from other vessels and be cautious in areas with swimmers or smaller boats. Understanding and following the ‘rules of the road’ on the water is as important as it is on land.

8. Emergency Preparedness

Always have a plan for emergencies. This includes knowing how to handle your boat in various conditions, having a first-aid kit on board, and understanding basic rescue techniques.


This boating season, let’s commit to making Canada’s waters safer for everyone. By following these boating safety tips and encouraging others to do the same, we contribute to a culture of safety and responsibility that benefits all who take to Canada’s waterways. Courtesy