Boating Safety: Tips for a safe boating experience - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

Boating Safety: Tips for a safe boating experience


Ontario has an abundance of lakes, rivers and other bodies of water that attracts boating enthusiasts throughout the year but particularly during the summer months. Whether you take to the water in a canoe, kayak, sailboat or other watercraft, the risk of being injured or killed in an accident is a real concern. More than 66 percent of drownings in Ontario occur in natural bodies of water with lakes accounting for 44 percent of them. Enjoying a day on the water is possible without a mishap as long as you take the time to exercise care and follow a few safe boating tips.

Become a certified boat operator

Anyone operating a boat powered by a motor must obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card by taking a boating safety courseapproved by Transport Canada and passing a written test. The course covers the following:

  • Required safety equipment for pleasure boats
  • Overview of navigation buoys
  • Proper conduct on the waterways
  • Boating regulations
  • Emergency response

Visitors to Canada must possess a PCOC issued by Transport Canada or an equivalent proof of basic boating skills issued by the person’s state or country. Visitors operating a boat they own and brought with them are exempt from the requirement of having proof of competency as long as their stay does not exceed 45 consecutive days.

Make sure your boat is properly equipped

Boats powered by a motor should have the following safety equipment on board at all times:

  • One lifejacket or other approved personal floatation device for each person on the boat
  • Heaving line measuring at least 15 metres
  • Signal flares or a waterproof flashlight and batteries
  • Paddle or other device to propel the boat in case of engine failure
  • Pump or other device to remove water from inside the boat
  • Approved fire extinguisher
  • Audible signal device, such as a horn

The following items should be carried by all types of boats, including kayaks and canoes:

  • First aid kit
  • Fire starting device, such as waterproof matches
  • Knife
  • Drinking water
  • Sunscreen and a hat
  • A change of clothing in the event what you are wearing becomes wet
  • A cellphone

Depending upon how long you plan to be on the water and the availability of nearby facilities to purchase food, you should pack some snacks in the event an emergency keeps you on the water longer than anticipated.

Do not consume alcohol

The dangers associated with operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol are as great as those associated with operating a car or other motor vehicle. The Canadian Red Cross reports that 65 percent of deaths related to boating can be traced to the consumption of alcohol.

Check the weather and let someone know of your plans

Weather conditions can quickly change from when you first leave home. The calm and sunny day can give way to high winds, heavy rains and lightening that can put you in jeopardy while on the water. Check the weather forecast right before heading onto the water, and make certain your vessel is properly equipped to handle it.

Inform a friend or relative who is not going with you of your boating plans. Let them know the times of your departure and anticipated return and where you are going. This ensures that someone will notify the authorities in the event you run into trouble on the water and do not return by the expected time.

Ontario personal injury lawyers

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience successfully pursuing claims for compensation on behalf of individuals injured due to the negligence of other parties. If you have been injured in an accident you could have a claim for compensation. Call the Diamond and Diamond 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit their website to speak to someone now. They offer free consultations and case evaluations to injury victims throughout Ontario.

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