Enjoy the water this Canada Day Weekend but do it safely,  says Boating BC

Boating BC

July 2, 2024

In preparation for the Canada Day Weekend, Boating Industry Canada News Week Digest contacted Bruce Hayne, Executive Director at Boating BC to discuss some recent boating mishaps and to talk about what we can each do as a boater.

With the Canada Day weekend approaching, Boating BC Association is encouraging everyone who may be planning to participate in any form of water-related activities to prepare for a fun and safe experience.
Whether it involves paddle boarding on Okanagan Lake, canoeing in the Kootenays, or simply enjoying the waters of the Fraser River or a day out on False Creek, recreational enthusiasts taking on water-related activities should be aware of and confident of the rules of the water. The most important first step is an easy one: ensure everyone in your party is equipped with a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or lifejacket.
“British Columbia boasts some of the world’s most magnificent waterways, but while the focus should be on having fun and relaxing, there are underlying risks that demand prudence and common sense,” says Bruce Hayne, Executive Director of Boating BC. “Recreational boating and other water related activities are very popular as we near the warmest months of the year, but with many new boaters on the water, it’s hard to decipher who knows the rules of the waters and who may need a refresher.”

According to a comprehensive study spanning from 2013 to 2023 by the BC Coroners Service, boating-related drownings represented 18% of drownings in British Columbia.
On average, almost 100 deaths per year in Canada are related to recreational boating, and wearing a lifejacket may have prevented the majority of those deaths. According to the Drowning Prevention Research Centre, 80% of individuals who died as the result of a recreational boating-related incident were not wearing a PFD or lifejacket at the time of the incident. Alcohol also plays a significant factor, with 40% of individuals who were fatally injured in a recreational boating-related incident having consumed alcohol.
“What makes these statistics both incredibly sad and frustrating is the fact that the vast majority are preventable,” continued Hayne. “And that is why we are appealing for people to get out on the beautiful waters of British Columbia, but ensure they are aware and attentive when they do.”

Boating BC Association is also reminding water enthusiasts that we share our waterways with large and small recreational and commercial watercraft and to be considerate of others, and the environment. Accidents are avoided when recreational boaters learn and adhere to the rules of the waterway so that the deep-sea vessels can do their jobs and the recreational boaters can enjoy a safe day on the water. 

For example, in our conversation with Bruce Hayne, he spoke of a recent collision between a float plane and a recreational boat in Vancouver Harbour that has sparked discussions on maritime safety and this especially serves as an important reminder about the importance of understanding and adhering to marine traffic rules. While the float plane boat crash is still under investigation, the accident does serve to underline that proper training, including knowledge of local navigational hazards and adherence to safety protocols such as wearing life jackets, is essential for all boaters to ensure safe navigation amidst diverse waterway traffic. 

We also discussed another boating accident that took place at Bob’s Lake near Kingston, Ontario. After that fatal crash, there were several people including some who were severely injured, still in the water waiting for emergency help. A sudden crash like that is precisely the reason for always wearing a PFD when boating. After the crash, you simply cannot locate your PFD and put it on. 

Embarking on an aquatic adventure this year, be it kayaking, sailing, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, or power boating, water enthusiasts are reminded that a well-informed and confident boater ensures both safety and enjoyment on the water.

Boating BC recommends following these basic tips:
·      Always wear a properly fitted personal flotation device
·      Never drink or consume recreational drugs and boat
·      Be prepared with proper safety equipment on board and make a “Float Plan” ensuring someone knows when you are due back
·      Take a boating course
·      Be aware of the risks of cold water especially early in the season
For more tips and advice, please head to: https://www.boatingbc.ca/cpages/safe-boating.
If you haven’t completed your safety course, you are encouraged to do so. For more information about how to get started in boating and tips on boating safety visit: www.boatingbc.ca.
About Boating BC:
Boating BC Association is the go-to resource to learn about what it means to be a boater in BC.  We help create connections, partnerships, and friendships between boaters and across the marine industry.  As a collection of voices, we speak clearly and loudly to regulatory bodies on any issue that touches the world of boating in BC. For further information about Boating BC and boating safety, visit: www.boatingbc.ca.

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