Excited to go boating with your friends and family on a beautiful sunny day? So are we! Since safety is paramount to having a positive boating experience, we’ve compiled a list of 5 important safety tips to ensure you have a blast on the water this boating season.
1. Wear a Lifejacket
A Canadian Red Cross study examining boating deaths across Canada over 20 years found that 1 in 2 deaths could have been prevented if the victims were wearing life jackets.
Even if you are a good swimmer, nothing can prepare you for the rough and cold water, the dark, and you may need to help fellow passengers in distress. The cold shock on hitting the water tends to make you gasp for air, in which case water may enter the lungs. Always wear a lifejacket.
2. Leave the Alcohol Onshore
It shouldn’t be a surprise that alcohol diminishes judgment and reduces motor skills. According to the Canadian Red Cross, alcohol is present or suspected in more than 50% of boating fatalities. Alcohol and boating do not mix. Leave the alcohol onshore and boat sober. Make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages onboard to keep yourselves hydrated.
3. Check the Forecast
Weather services like The Weather Network Marine Forecast can help you plan how you will carry out your day, with useful information like winds, wave periods and wave heights. Always know what is in the forecast to ensure you aren’t stuck boating in poor or dangerous conditions.
4. Double-check Your Equipment
Always ensure you’ve packed the following essentials before leaving shore:
- Lifejackets (with appropriate sizing for those onboard)
- Buoyant heaving line
- Bell or whistle
- Visual distress signals or waterproof flashlight
- Fire extinguisher
- Drinking water
These items are indispensable and could very save your life should an incident occur on the water. Check with your local authorities before leaving shore to ensure you are complying with minimum requirements.
5. Get a Nautical Chart
No boating activity is complete without knowing where you are on the water. Make sure to be equipped with a current printed or GPS nautical chart of the area to identify water depths, buoys, hazards, rocks and marinas.
In certain jurisdictions, having official charts, such as CHS charts in Canada and NOAA charts in the United States, are required when navigating on waterways. Check with your local authorities before leaving shore to ensure you are compliant.
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