Must-Have Boat Safety Equipment for Your Boat

Must-Have Boat Safety Equipment in Ontario

The prospect of going on a recreational boat on the many bodies of water in Ontario is enticing. Boating is a popular activity in many parts of Canada. In fact, about 12.4 million adults go boating for pleasure every year.

However, as a boat operator or owner, you must have boat safety equipment in good condition when going out into the water, especially during the busy summer months. The top cause of death in boating accidents is drowning due to the lack of lifejackets or wearable personal flotation devices, which are essential tools for boating safety.

Importance of Having Boat Safety Equipment 

Transport Canada has dedicated an entire section on boat safety equipment requirements for different vessels, which all owners and operators must follow. Various authorities, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, can enforce laws and regulations, such as those that concern boat safety.

In Ontario, boat owners and operators can also avoid civil liability by keeping boat safety equipment, as specified in the regulations, on board. They owe people on their property a duty of care under the Occupiers’ Liability Act, including boats. Boat owners and operators can easily avoid this by having the proper boat safety equipment onboard.

Boat Safety Equipment You Must Have in Your Boat

Before you set off for the deep blue waters in anticipation of a good time with family and friends, check your boat safety equipment. The requirements vary based on the size of the vessel, but for boats 6 meters in length or smaller, the following boating safety equipment requirements are mandatory:

Wearable Personal Flotation Devices

You must have one personal floatation device (PFD), or life jacket, which is approved by Canadian authorities, for each person on the boat. Life jackets come in child and adult sizes, so you must ensure you have enough of the right-sized life jackets to accommodate all your passengers. Even alone, you must have at least two PFDs onboard. All life jackets must be inherently buoyant.

While the regulations do not require wearing life jackets, you should do so even if you are a good swimmer. Wearing a life jacket the entire time you are on a boat can literally save your life if you fall overboard.

The boat should have a buoyant heaving line at least 15 meters long to rescue anyone who falls overboard. If your boat exceeds 6 meters in length, you should also have at least one life buoy attached to the heaving line. Sailing vessels exceeding 24 meters in length must have two SOLAS life buoys: one attached to a buoyant line (minimum 30 meters in length) and the other to a self-igniting light.

You should also have a reboarding device, such as a transom ladder or lifting harness, if the freeboard distance, which is the height from the water you must climb to board the boat, is more than 0.5 meters. Lifting harnesses for longer, taller vessels must have appropriate rigging.

Fire Extinguishers

If your boat is a personal watercraft (PWC) or sail and powerboat, you will need at least one Class 5BC fire extinguisher. For fuel-powered vessels over 9 meters, you will need at least one Class 10BC fire extinguisher. You aren’t required to keep a fire extinguisher if your boat does not have an engine, a fixed fuel tank, or refrigerating, cooking or heating appliances. However, the Canadian Red Cross recommends having one anyway.

Navigation Equipment

If you have plans on taking your boat out before dawn, after sunset, or in conditions of inadequate visibility, such as fog or rain, ensure that it has working navigation lights. You should also have a waterproof flashlight with sufficient power for the size of your boat so that you can use it to illuminate your path back to shore if your navigation lights fail. This is an important part of your boating safety equipment.

Regulations also require your boat to have a magnetic compass and a radar reflector so that you will show up more quickly on the radars of other ships.

Adequate lights, compasses and radar reflectors will not only minimize the chances of getting lost or running aground, but they can also prevent collisions with other vessels. The goal is to make Personal Flotation Devices unnecessary.

Did you know?

Drunk driving is one of the top causes of boating accidents. Drinking slows your reaction time, thus making you dizzy and less equipped to deal with potential dangers.


Suppose you or a family member has been a victim in a boating accident. In that case, you must protect your rights by consulting with an experienced boating accident lawyer immediately. Call Diamond and Diamond today!

Distress Signals

If you do get lost, run aground, or need help for any reason, you can use your flashlight to signal other boats, the Coast Guard, or people on the shore. However, flares are more noticeable and recognized visual distress signals and, therefore, more effective.

Have You Been In a Boating Accident? Call The Personal Injury Lawyers at Diamond and Diamond Today.

The idea behind these required boating safety equipment is to hold boat owners and operators to a reasonable standard of care. You can avoid most boat accidents by simply putting these safety measures in place.

Unfortunately, many people do not, and it can lead to catastrophic injuries to all those involved in a boating accident. If you got hurt because the boat owner or operator was negligent, you might be able to get compensation.

However, boating accidents are typically complex and, depending on the circumstances, several laws may apply for boating injuries in Ontario, including the Marine Liability Act and the Occupiers’ Liability Act. To ensure you don’t run into trouble, consult with Diamond & Diamond Lawyers today!

Our boating accident lawyers have extensive experience dealing with complicated cases and deep knowledge of Canadian tort law. We are Canada’s top personal injury law firm with multiple offices in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Whatever negligent accident you suffered, we will be there for you.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help. You can contact us 24/7 by calling us toll-free at 1-800-567-HURT or by filling out our online form. Go ahead and schedule a free case evaluation.

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