The Importance of Wearing a Lifejacket While Boating on Ontario Waterways - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers

The Importance of Wearing a Lifejacket While Boating on Ontario Waterways


Ontario has more than 400,000 lakes, streams and rivers offering boaters countless hours of pleasure. The enjoyment of being on the water comes to a quick end when someone falls overboard. According to the Canadian Red Cross, drowning accidents claim the lives of about 525 Canadians annually, but 90 percent of drownings occurring on the waterways could be prevented by simply wearing a lifejacket.

Compliance with the law

Recreational boaters in Ontario and other parts of Canada must have a personal floatation device or lifejacket on board for each person to be in compliance with the law. The Red Cross study into boating accidents offers the following details about boaters to show how the current lifejacket regulations might not be doing enough:

  • 24 percent of deaths occurred when a lifejacket or personal floatation device was on a boat and not being worn
  • Only 50 percent of the boaters polled by the Red Cross said they wore a lifejacket
  • 82 percent of the people who admitted they did not wear a lifejacket all the time did so while believing the law required them to wear it

The statistics show how important lifejackets and personal floatation devices are in promoting water safety, but people continue to find excuses not to wear them.

Lifejackets only save lives when they are worn

Being in compliance with Canadian law, which includes paddleboards in its definition of recreational watercraft, by having lifejackets available will not save a life unless the jacket is worn. Accidents happen quickly and may leave little or no time to find and put on a lifejacket.

The ability to swim is no excuse for not wearing a lifejacket. The shock of being submersed in the cold waters of a lake or river can quickly immobilize even the best swimmer or cause the individual to lose consciousness. Wearing an approved floatation device designed to keep a person’s face out of the water could save a life. Some lifejackets are insulated to slow the body’s loss of heat while a person is in the water.

Personal floatation devices

Although lifejackets offer better floatation and are better at keeping a person’s face out of the water by turning them, personal floatation devices have a few benefits to offer. They usually are not as heavy or as bulky as lifejackets, and many of them are specifically designed to be worn throughout the day without restricting activities.

Whichever type of device a person chooses, it is important to purchase one that fits properly. A lifejacket that is too big for its wearer can be dangerous by causing the person to float with his or her face in the water. A lifejacket that is too small could be unable of keeping a person afloat.

Getting help when boating accidents happen

The personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond are there to help in the event you or a loved one is injured in a boating accident. They have experience obtaining compensation for accident victims. Contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURTor visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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