Since 1995, Safe Boating Awareness Week has been the mainstay of boating safety to over 16 million people who recreate on Canadian waters. The 2021 campaign will still be reaching out to Canadian boaters but, due to Covid-19, will be a little different in many ways.
Boating is not quite into full gear yet, with some areas of the country open and some soon to open. Because many are getting onto the water in time for Safe Boating Awareness week, we want to remind you of not just our 5 key messages for boating safely, we will also want you to keep in mind recommendations related to physical distancing and who should be and not be on your boat.
A key issue as the boating season begins is for now you can expect fewer boaters on the water, so there will be less chance of having help close at hand if you run into trouble. Plus, if you do get into trouble, you will put extra stress onto rescue resources.
From the Canadian Safe Boating Council, the CSBC Safe Boating Awareness Week messages this season are:
- Wear Your Lifejacket – Over 80% of Canadians who drown while boating were not wearing their lifejacket or not wearing it properly. There are so many choices for lifejackets / personal floatation devices on the market now, it is easy to pick one that suits your ‘boating style’ and is one that you are comfortable wearing all the time you are on the water.
- Boat Sober – Whether it’s prescription drugs, alcohol or cannabis, the use of intoxicants is both irresponsible and illegal. In some provinces, being convicted of impaired operation will also affect your automobile license.
- Be Prepared, You and Your Boat – Make sure you and your boat are up to your planned on-water activities. That means you are knowledgeable about your upcoming trip, your boat is properly equipped with the required and good to have safety equipment, the weather is suitable for the voyage, you have sufficient fuel and you have filed a trip plan. Plus, this is not all about you…it is important to keep in mind that by staying out of trouble you will not be putting pressure on rescue resources.
- Take a Boating Course – If you are operating a powered recreational vessel, you should have your Pleasure Craft Operator Card or some other proof of competency. But that is just as start, so consider taking some advanced courses. If your boating preference tends towards paddle, this is the perfect time to enroll in some on water training. Or if you are just starting out, log onto and start your boating in a paddle craft responsibly. The site is not a substitute for on water training, but it does provide a great first step in education about paddle craft.
- Be Aware of Cold-Water Risks – Cold water can severely impact your ability to swim or even just stay afloat. Even the best swimmers will feel the effects of a sudden cold-water immersion. No matter your swimming ability, best chance of surviving an accidental cold-water immersion is to wear your lifejacket!
Boating is a favourite pastime for many Canadians. It can reduce the stress of social isolation and it’s a great family activity. By its very nature, boating provides the ideal way to get out and enjoy the outdoors while still maintaining social distancing practices.