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What You Need to Know About Boat Safety

Warmer weather means that more British Columbians want to be outside. With the ocean and so many rivers and lakes at our disposal, chances are good that you’ll find yourself on the water at least once this summer.

Whether you like kayaking, canoeing, or prefer to have an motor on your boat, the need to exercise caution is critical. While boating can be a wonderful experience, it also has the potential to result in spinal injury, brain injury, and other devastating consequences.

Practice Safe Boating

As a boat owner, operator, or passenger, it is your responsibility to educate yourself on the appropriate safety measures. First and foremost, always ensure that you wear a life jacket when on the water. Even the most skilled swimmers need to wear a personal flotation device (PFD). In the event of an accident, you may be unable to swim and wearing a PFD could make the difference between survival and a traumatic injury or death.

As is the case with operating any other motor vehicle, you cannot and should not boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You need to be alert and able to quickly respond to unexpected situations while on the water and anything that dulls the senses must be avoided.

In British Columbia, it is against the law to operate a boat without a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. It is also recommended that would-be boaters take a boating course or series of lessons in order to hone their skills and prepare them for potentially dangerous situations.

Know Your Boats Safety Requirements

Even the smallest boats have minimum safety requirements. In other words, if you plan on going for a quick paddle in your canoe, you still need to be equipped with the right supplies. Depending on the size and type of the boat, you may be required to carry a range of safety devices including

  • A life jacket for every passenger on the boat
  • Watertight flashlights
  • Flares
  • Signalling device
  • Compass
  • Bailer or bilge pump
  • Fire extinguisher

It is important to ensure that you have the right equipment for your boat before leaving the dock or shore.

Summer is meant to be enjoyed and by staying safe on the water, you can help keep yourself and those around you safe. The consequences of a boat accident can be devastating and result in serious injury or death. Taking the time to educate yourself and ensuring that you are well-prepared can go a long way when it comes to enjoying everything that boating season has to offer.

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