Safe Boating Tips For The Whole Season
Research performed in 2017 by the Canadian Safe Boating Council indicated that 45% of Canadians enjoy recreational boating each year. That’s over 16 million of us. We venture out in power boats, sail boats, personal watercraft, canoes, kayaks and, in rapidly increasing numbers, stand-up paddleboards. Whatever the craft, boaters will readily admit that they love being on the water.
It’s partly this passion for boating that makes people so eager to get out on the water as soon as the ice has receded and the air temperatures start to warm. The Canadian Safe Boating Council and our many partners want to remind boaters as they begin their boating activities this season to keep the following practices in mind:
1. Wear Your Lifejacket – Well in advance of your planned outing, inspect all lifejackets for holes, fraying or split seams, broken buckles and/or zippers. If any are found, replace the lifejacket immediately. Also, check for fit to make sure that it can be worn comfortably. Inflatable lifejackets should be tested for leaks every year by manually inflating them using the breathing tube and leaving them overnight to ensure there is no deflation. Most importantly, when you head out, wear your lifejacket!
2. Don’t Boat Impaired – Be sure to take along plenty of non-alcoholic beverages to keep you hydrated but leave the alcohol until you return. Also, while recreational marijuana use will soon be legal in Canada, the best practice is to abstain until you get back to the dock! Safe boating demands your full attention.
3. Check the Weather – Storms with high winds and waves can brew up quickly in the spring so make sure you have checked the weather forecast and, if necessary, delay your outing until another day. A marine forecast, available on the Environment Canada website, will forecast wave heights and indicate whether a Small Craft Warning has been issued for the body of water on which you plan to boat.
4. Check All Your Safety Equipment – Make sure you have checked and loaded all your legally- mandated and recommended safety equipment. Remember to put fresh batteries in all electronic equipment including flashlights.
5. Understand the Dangers of Cold Water Immersion – Dress for the water temperature rather than the air temperature and understand that, even in ice cold water, it takes at least 30 minutes for an adult to become even mildly hypothermic. By wearing a lifejacket and dressing with some thermal protection, you will drastically improve your chances for rescue. Most importantly, don’t panic! Panic kills.
The Canadian Safe Boating Council urges you to remember these few recommended practices throughout the season to keep you and your family safe on the water throughout the 2018 boating season.