How to Stay Safe While Boating This Summer

There are many areas to explore by boat in Atlantic Canada and ideal fishing spots for you to cast your line. But before heading out to the water, operators of motorized boats must have their boating licence, which is also called a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. This has been in effect as of September 2009. Despite having a boating licence, accidents still occur on the water and for many reasons. According to Global News, there were 92 boating fatalities across Canada in 2017, with four of those being in Nova Scotia.

According to Director Ian Gibson of the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC), “Ninety-nine percent of [drowning victims] are people who’ve done things that either they shouldn’t have done, or don’t have the right equipment to keep them alive and that’s the ultimate tragedy. Families’ lives are ruined in a preventable accident.”

The following are ways you can help prevent boating accidents:

Go Boating Prepared

Prior to leaving dry land to engage in boating activities, you need to test and prepare your boat in case of emergencies with the proper equipment. According to the CSCB, 80% of boaters drown each year as a consequence of not wearing a lifejacket. Although passengers may not be wearing a lifejacket or flotation device the entire time they are onboard your vessel, depending on its size, it’s still important to test the buoyancy of your lifejackets and ensure they are Canadian-approved. Moreover, make sure each passenger has a flotation device that is suitable to their size.

Other pieces of marine safety equipment that should be on your vessel include a pump or bailer, heaving lines, lifebuoys, a fire extinguisher, an anchor, and a set of oars or a paddle. You will need to ensure that the safety equipment you purchase is compatible with your vessel since there are so many different sizes and types of boats. Every boat also needs noise-making equipment, such as whistles, horns, and bells, and Canadian-approved flares to ensure you are audible and visible should you and your vessel be in distress.

Regularly check your vessel’s supplies to ensure that you are properly prepared in case of an emergency. The following items should remain stocked on your boat at all times:

  • Food
  • Drinking water
  • Sunscreen
  • Dry clothing
  • Waterproof matches
  • Marine First Aid Kit

Go Boating Sober

Many people go boating to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. In this social setting, it can be tempting to have drink, and this may seem harmless. However, a boat is still a motor vehicle, and driving while impaired is a crime.

According to Director Gibson, 40% of boating fatalities are caused by impaired driving due to alcohol. With Canada’s legalization of marijuana set for this October, boat operators must also refrain from consuming marijuana before or while driving.

The consumption of alcohol and/or marijuana affects the functions necessary for operating a vehicle safely, such as:

  • Vision
  • Perception
  • Focus
  • Judgement
  • Reaction and reflex response time

At MacGillivray Injury and Insurance Law, we represent accident injury victims and fight for the compensation they deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact us today, or call 1-888-434-0398 to book a free consultation and find out how we can help.


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