Stay safe while out on the water

Ah summer time! A chance to relax, unwind, spend time with family or friends or just catch up on some reading with a good book.

Many of us will spend a lazy afternoon fishing on the lake or towing the kids while they water ski. Boating is one of those activities that go with summer.

In Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard through their office of boating safety has brought in regulations designed to improve your safety while navigating Canadian waterways. Since 1999 these phased in regulations mean that many of us have had to obtain our pleasure craft operator’s card. If you went boating today here are the rules:

Are you born after April 1, 1983?
Do you operate a power vessel less than 4 meters in length, including personal watercraft?

If you answered yes to either of these questions before you put the boat or personal watercraft in the water today, you need to get a card or else you are operating the craft illegally and subject to penalty. Also, youth under 16 even if they have a card are not able to operate a personal watercraft aka a jet ski! So how do I get “the card?” There are many online resources available, check them out!

Today, there are two types of floatation devices. Your standard life jacket is designed to not only keep you afloat but also to turn you face up if you fall into the water. These are orange, yellow or red and have a whistle attached. The have a “keyhole” design to fit over your head. Then we have personal floatation devices (PFD) which are inherently buoyant or inflatable. PFDs are the more common devices we have on board a boat. Wear while water skiing but hopefully never use as a seat cushion. Children’s PFDs should be comfortable yet snug. Never buy a large PFD for the child to grow into. Loose, ill-fitting PFDs are dangerous.
PFDs for children can have special safety features. You may want to look for the following additional features when selecting a PFD for your child:
Large collar for head support,
Sturdy, rust-proof zipper,
Draw string,
Waist ties or elastic gathers in front and back,
Safety strap that goes between the legs to prevent the PFD from slipping over the child’s head,
Buckle on safety straps and reflective tape, attach a sound-signaling device (whistle) to your child’s PFD zipper for added safety.
Hey and don’t forget one for your pet too!
In Canada, 73% of all drownings happen because the person was not wearing a life jacket. So, what’s your excuse? We all make excuses such as they are too hot, too uncomfortable, don’t fit or the best one is in an emergency I’ll be able to put it on. There is no excuse for not wearing a PFD or life jacket. Make it a standard practice to wear it before getting into the boat till the time you arrive back on shore. Make sure everyone who boards the boat has a proper PFD or life jacket that is approved and fits them correctly. Be Responsible!
Don’t allow a person who has consumed alcohol to operate a boat.
Provide non-alcoholic beverages for boat operators and passengers.
Wear lifejackets or Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs). It’s the law to carry one that fits each person in the vessel, but Parkland Ambulance recommends wearing it every trip, for the whole trip.
If you have a backyard pool, supervise your children. Have some safety equipment near by should there be an emergency. Take precautions to protect your pool with a fence so that when you are absent from home, others don’t access the pool. While talking pools, many will head to the public beach for summer fun. Keep an eye on your children! A moment of inattention such as using your phone or reading could be tragic.
Have a safe summer! Don’t let the tragedy we hear be one that involves you or your family. Be safe around any body of water this summer!