June 20th is just around the corner which means summer has finally arrived in Alberta! And many people like to take advantage of our warm summer days by escaping to their favorite lake for a little R&R, which often involves getting out on a boat. While this is a fun pastime, it can also be dangerous if the proper precautions are not taken.
Canadian law also requires that boats are equipped with marine safety equipment. So, we’re here to provide you with some information and tips to help you enjoy your boat in a safe way.
Avoid Close Quarters Situations!
Keep constant watch for others on the water. Always watch for others on the water and be ready to yield to other boats in the safest way – keeping in mind the water and weather conditions. Ensure to change your speed when passing a boat to avoid a potential incident.
Use this list to ensure you have all the following safety equipment on board (at a minimum):
- Valid Boat License
- Canadian approved flotation devices or lifejackets – there must be a lifejacket in an appropriate size for each passenger on board
- Buoyant heaving line at least 15 metres in length
- Watertight/proof flashlight OR approved flares (Type A, B, or C)
- Sound signaling device (air horn)
- Manual propelling device (paddle)
- Anchor with 15 metres of rope, chain or cable.
- Bailer or manual water pump
- Appropriate size/class fire extinguisher
- First Aid Kit
- Review emergency response signals, procedures and protocol with all passengers, especially young children
In addition to safety equipment, the following items are suggested for boating excursions:
- Clean drinking water
- Sun Screen/Insect repellent
- Extra sets of dry clothing and towels
- Snacks/food for the trip (including extra non-perishable snacks for longer trips is a good idea also)
- Waterproof matches
- Floating keychain
Alcohol and Boating
Every year hundreds of people die in unintentional water-related accidents and unfortunately almost 65% of these deaths resulted from the use of alcohol. Over 40% of boating related fatalities involve the use of alcohol. 37% of boaters in Canada admit to consuming alcohol every time they boat and 66% report they drink alcohol sometimes when boating.
How does alcohol consumption affect the boater?
- diminishes judgment and the ability to process information,
- reduces motor skills, peripheral vision and balance,
- slows reaction and reflex response time,
- reduces depth perception, vision and focus,
- disturbs the inner ear thus reducing your ability to distinguish the water surface if you fall in, and
- accelerates hypothermia
Boating can be a fun activity for people of all ages when it’s done safely. So, stay safe, stay sober (while boating anyways) and have a great summer!!