While no one ever plans to have a deadly accident, in past years more than 100 people have died annually in Canadian waters. Fatalities happen in all vessels – from canoes to large motor yachts.
Much of Canada’s water is cold year-round, so always wear a lifejacket while boating. Cold water shock can quickly paralyze your arms and legs. If you are not wearing a lifejacket and fall into cold water, it will be very difficult to put one on, and you could drown just inches away from your boat.
Canadian law requires boat operators to carry an approved lifejacket of the proper size for each person on board. This means adult sizes for adults and appropriate vests for children.
Anything can happen on the water and there may not be anyone around to help. Before you leave shore you should:
• inspect all of your equipment
• make sure you have the gear required for your vessel size
• check the weather forecast
• leave a trip plan with a responsible person
• bring along your marine charts.
Being prepared includes knowing and following the ‘rules of the road’ at all times. Always maintain a proper lookout, operate at a safe speed and keep your distance from large vessels.
All pleasure craft must carry safety equipment that may include:
• a buoyant heaving line
• flares and/or a flashlight
• a manual bilge pump or bailer
• navigation lights
• an anchor
• a fire extinguisher, and
• a whistle or horn.
Consult the Safe Boating Guide for a detailed list, or arrange for a Recreational Vessel Courtesy Check with your local Canadian Power and Sail Squadron.
Every powerboat operator must now carry proof of competency such as the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), along with photo ID – or face a $250 fine.
To learn more about boating safety courses and how to prepare for a safe outdoor adventure, visit www.boatingsafety.gc.ca.