WaterSmart® Tips

Top Ten Water Smart® Tips from the Lifesaving Society:

  1. Choose it and Use it! Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD)!
    Don’t just have it in the boat. Pick one and wear it.

  2. Think about it. Boat sober and ride sober.
    Don’t drink and drive your boat or snowmobile.

  3. Get carded. Get the Pleasure Craft Operator Card.
    The Lifesaving Society’s Boat Operator Accredited Training (BOAT)™ course is available at participating recreation departments and other aquatic facilities. Take the course to help you know the boating “rules of the road,” how to respond in a boating emergency and how to operate pleasure craft safely.

    The Boat Study Guide contains everything you need to know to pass the test for a PCO card (Pleasure Craft Operator Card). This can be ordered online through THE SHOP.

  4. Know before you go.
    Check the weather forecast and complete a simple safety checklist.

  5. Drive powerboats, personal water craft and snowmobiles responsibly.
    Look before you act, stay low, drive at moderate speeds, be aware of changing weather conditions, and drive with extreme caution and proper lights after dark.

  6. Closely supervise young children near water.
    If you’re not “within arms’ reach”, you’ve gone too far.

  7. Always swim with a buddy.
    And play and swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard.

  8. Don’t drive your snowmobile on thin ice, and wear a thermal protection buoyant suit.

  9. Protect your neck.
    Go feet first, first time. Never dive into shallow water.

  10. Learn to swim and learn lifesaving skills.
    Go further…take a Lifesaving Society program: the Canadian Swim Patrol, Bronze Medallion, Bronze Cross, National Lifeguard Service® (NL) or other lifesaving program. Contact your local pool or aquatic facility for more information.

Boating and Fishing Safety Tips

Top Ten Boating and Fishing Safety Tips from the Lifesaving Society:

  1. Life jackets. Choose it - Use it!  Always wear a lifejacket or personal flotation device! Don't just have it in the boat, pick one and wear it. The vast majority of Canadian boating victims were not wearing a lifejacket or PFD when they drowned. You can compare trying to put on a lifejacket or PFD in an emergency to trying to put on your seatbelt in the middle of a car crash. Lifejackets and PFDs have come a long way. Inflatable types and a wider range of colours and styles make it easier for you to find and wear the one that's right for you. 

  2. Boat Sober - it's the Water Smart® choice!
    Booze/Drugs and boating don't mix. According to the Canadian Drowning Report 2016 Edition, alcohol consumption was involved in 39% of boating deaths.  Alcohol intensifies the effects of fatigue, sun, wind and boat motion to negatively affect balance, judgement and reaction time.  Be Water Smart® - don't drink and drive your boat!

  3. Get carded!  Get trained in boat safety.  You can get ready for the Pleasure Craft Operator Card test by taking a Lifesaving Society Boat Operator Accredited Training (BOAT)™ course or study at home, using the Lifesaving Society BOAT Study Guide, available at our SHOP, and take the test at one of our BOAT Test Centres.  The course will help you to know the "rules of the road", how to respond in a boating emergency, and how to operate a pleasure craft safely.  Everyone who operates a power-driven boat needs proof of competency.

    A variety of documents my serve as proof of competency: 
  4. Know before you go! Check the forecast and create a simple safety checklist. 
    Avoid potential danger by taking a few minutes to make a simple checklist: What's the weather forecast?Any Local Hazards?What is the condition of the waterways?Where is it shallow?Are there any rapids?Have your maps and charts?Have your lifejackets or pfd's?Have your first aid kit, tools and spare parts?Enough fuel?Safety equipment all working?Told someone where you're going and when to expect you back? 

  5. Wear the right gear!
    Wear your lifejacket or PFD, of course, as well as good sunglasses, sunscreen and appropriate clothing. Paddles, whistles and flares are the right gear, too.

  6. Drive your powerboat or PWC responsibly.
    Look before you act, stay low, drive at moderate speeds, be aware of changing weather conditions, and drive with extreme caution and proper lights after dark.
    • Children under 16 years of age are not permitted to operate a PWC.
    • Children under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult to operate a boat with a motor of more than 7.5 KW (10 HP).
    • Children 12 to 15 years must be accompanied by an adult to operate a boat with a motor of more than 30 KW (40 HP).

  7. Never stand up in your small powerboat, canoe or other similar watercraft. 
    Numerous drownings occur when people stand up and move around their boat. 

  8. Get trained - take Lifesaving Society courses
    Be prepared in the event of a crash-whether your boat capsizes or you need to rescue someone else. Become aware of the dangers of cold water. 

  9. Don't overload. 
    Avoid capsizing by following the load restrictions of your craft. This includes not only the number of passengers, but also the weight of your gear. 

  10. Follow the rules of the road. Be courteous of others using the waterways and obey all boating rules. Be watchful of swimmers and other boaters, and always have a spotter for water-skiers and tube riders.

Ice Safety Tips

Many factors affect ice thickness including the type of water, location, and time of year. Other environmental factors also affect ice thickness such as the size and depth of the body of water; moving water (i.e. currents,  drainage, runoff); snow cover; chemicals including salt; fluctuations in water levels; logs, rocks and docks absorbing heat from the sun; changing air temperature and shock waves from vehicles travelling on the ice.

Choosing & Creating Safe Ice Surfaces

Please check local area signage, authorities and media before going onto the ice. No ice is without risk.

Top Ten Ice Safety Tips from the Lifesaving Society:

  1. Use designated ice surfaces
    Many communities have designated ponds for activities such as skating that are maintained by knowledgeable personnel. Designated ice should be regularly tested to ensure that it is thick enough and strong enough for recreational use. 

  2. Spring Ice is Rotten Ice
    Stop using the ice once spring thaws begin.  Even if ice measures at the right thickness (minimum 10 cm or 4 inches for walking or skating alone), candling during melting weakens it vertically. The ice can no longer be trusted.

  3. Measure ice thickness in several locations
    Local conditions such as currents and water depths can affect ice thickness. Consult knowledgeable local individuals. White ice has air or snow within it and should be considered suspect for recreational use. 

    Recommendations for ice thickness are based on clear, blue or green ice: 

    3" (7cm) or less - STAY OFF!
    4" (10cm) - ice fishing, walking, cross country skiing
    5-7" (13-18cm) - one snowmobile or ATV
    8"-12" (20-30cm) - one car, group of people
    12"-15" (30-38cm) - one medium truck (pickup or van)

  4. Avoid traveling on ice at night
    At night it is very difficult to see open holes in the ice. This is a frequent cause of snowmobile drownings.

  5. Never go onto ice alone 
    A buddy may be able to rescue you, or go for help if you get into difficulty. Before you leave shore, tell someone where you are going and expected time of return.

  6. Stay off river ice 
    Avoid moving water and stay off water bodies with changing water levels. River currents can quickly change ice thickness over night or between different parts of the river.

  7. Wear a snowmobile flotation suit or a lifejacket
    Wear a lifejacket or PFD over your snowmobile suit or layered winter clothes to increase your survival chances if you do go through the ice.

  8. Take safety equipment with you
    Include ice picks, ice staff, rope, and a small personal safety kit in your pocket, which should include a lighter, waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, pocket knife, compass, whistle and a cell phone.

  9. Avoid alcohol
    Alcohol impairs your judgment and speeds up the development of hypothermia.

  10. If you drive on ice, have an escape plan
    Open your windows, unlock your doors, ensure seat belts are unfastened and turn on your lights to allow you to quickly escape from your vehicle should it go through the ice. 

  11. Always actively supervise children playing on or near ice
    Children should always be under active adult supervision. Children that aren't within arm's reach have ventured too far. Insist that they wear a lifejacket/PFD or thermal protection buoyant suit.

  12. Ice Rescue
    Rescuing another person from the ice can be dangerous. The safest way to perform a rescue is from the shore. If you see someone in trouble, call 911.

North American Safe Boating Awareness Week

North American Safe Boating Awareness Week (May 19-25, 2018) is run in Canada by the Canadian Safe Boating Council and its partner organizations.  The intent of North American Safe Boating Awareness Week is to remind recreational boaters to boat safely and responsibly throughout the season.  Visit www.csbc.ca for more information.

2018 campaign key messages:

  • Wear a PFD or Lifejacket
  • Don't Drink and Boat
  • Take a Boating Course
  • Be Prepared. Both You and Your Vessel
  • Be Wary of the Dangers of Cold Water Immersion