Pleasure Craft Safety by BOATSmart!


As the August long weekend approaches, it is of utmost importance to take extra safety precautions while we are around pools, lakes and streams. With the storms of the past few weeks an unhappy reminder of just how powerful a force Mother Nature can be, we must remember to heed the advice of the professionals in water safety. Take the folks at BOATsmart!, they specialize in promoting boating safety whether you are into power boating, sailing or simply canoeing down a lazy river. No matter your preference, playing safe on or near water is the ultimate goal.

Imagine taking a leisurely canoe ride down a river and almost losing your life because you didn't pay attention to the posted signs about impending waterfalls. Danger on the water does not have to come from altercations with Mother Nature.

BOATsmart!, has some amazing statistics that prove to us that there is a direct correlation between weekend playtime and boating fatalities and injuries due to human error. In Ontario alone, there were 18 boating fatalities in 2012. 80% of those killed in boating accidents were not practicing safe boating. First and foremost, wearing a life-jacket. A life-jacket is only going to work if you are wearing it. It is not meant as a seat cushion or a place to lay your head. Alcohol on the water was a factor in 40% of those fatalities, cold water played a part in almost 45% of boating deaths and 50% took place on calm sunny days. Proof that Mother Nature is not always to blame. Common sense should never take a back seat to having a good time and losing your sense of responsibility is not an option when others are around you. 40% of those killed had their boat capsize, and 25% of those were boaters who fell overboard. Just as staggering a statistic is that 29% died while boating alone. The type of boat you are in does not really play favourites either, power, sail, row, canoes and kayaks have all taken the lives of unsuspecting summer enthusiasts. Men were four times more likely to die in a boating accident than women.

There are several different rules and regulations designed to protect you and your passengers while enjoying your pleasure craft. Having a boat license (registration of the boat), a boating license (permit for user), Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) are just some of the requirements you must have in order to be a legal operator in the province of Ontario. There are some other requirements that are based on the size of the craft as well as the harbour in which you are traveling. They are all meant to make you a more competent boater. Imagine how you would feel if someone you love was injured or killed due to your incompetence or inability to practice safe boating.

There are 5 major tips that all safe boaters must practice religiously to ensure a summer of fun.

1- Get your BOATsmart! operator card- This is not an option, it is a requirement for all operators of motorized vessels to possess a PCOC. Knowledge is king when it comes to safety. Transport Canada has an accredited exam available at www.BoatSmartExam.com. Your friends and family will thank you for being a competent captain on or around the waterways.

2- Wear a Life Jacket- It's simple. No matter how proficient a swimmer you are, you are just as likely to get injured as someone who does not know how to swim. A PFD (personal floatation device) is a must for all on board. Life jackets are sized based on weight and height of those wearing them. Don't assume that they are a one size fits all. Just having them on the boat does not make them work, wear them.

3- Don't Drink and Boat- The same rules apply to the water as if your were in control of your car heading out to the cottage. Getting caught being intoxicated on the water is punishable by the same rules. Lose your car, lose your boat. Remember to stay hydrated while on the water, as the sun tends to be more intense while it reflects off the water.

4- Be Prepared- Make sure your boat has all the required safety equipment on board before departing the dock. Consulting local weather conditions can't hurt either. Prepare a checklist at home of what your boat is supposed to have on board and consult it every time you are going out. Don't assume they are there all the time. A friend of mine once left the dock and didn't realize his brother had taken the life jackets off the boat and loaned them to a friend. Have the confidence of insurance protection. Recreational boat insurance is available at www.BoatSmartAssure.com.

5- Refresh Your Knowledge- No matter your level of experience or your competence on the water, both novice and experienced boaters will benefit from taking the BOATsmart! course. Emergency preparedness to right-of-way rules, you'll learn everything you need to boat with confidence. A quick refresher each year can't hurt either. Download the BOATsmart! CONNECT APP complete with a free animated refresher lessons. It is both iPhone and Android compatible.

Summer vacation and cottage time creates memories to last a lifetime. Losing a loved one because you failed at practicing safe boating is not a memory I would like to have for the rest of my life. Knowing I was complicit in someone else's demise would weigh on my conscience forever.

Enjoy the August long weekend, and continue to play safe.


Disclosure - This blog was sponsored by our friends at BOATSmart! The opinions on this blog are my own.