Boating and Fishing Safety Tips

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

1. 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. Trying to put on a lifejacket or PFD in an emergency is like 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

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 through our online 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: 

  1. A Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) issued following the successful completion of an accredited test
  2. Proof (i.e. certificate) of having successfully completed a boating safety course in Canada prior to April 1, 1999 (when the current regulation came into effect)
  3. A professional marine certificate or equivalent from the List of Certificates of Competency, Training Certificates and other Equivalencies accepted as Proof of Competency when Operating a Pleasure Craft
  4. A completed rental-boat safety checklist (for power-driven rental boats, valid only for the rental period)
  5. For visitors to Canada, an operator card or other document that meets the requirements of their home state or country

4. Know Before You Go!

Avoid potential danger by taking a few minutes before your boating trip to make a simple checklist:

- What's the weather forecast like?

- Any local hazards?

- What is the condition of the waterways? Where is it shallow? Are there any rapids?

- Do you have your maps and charts?

- Do you have your lifejackets or PFDs?

- Do you have your first aid kit, tools and spare parts? Enough fuel?

- Is your safety equipment all in working condition?

- Have you 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 also important gear to have with you.

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.

  1. Children under 16 years of age are not permitted to operate a PWC.
  2. 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).
  3. 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 on small boats.

8. Get Trained

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. 

Take a Lifesaving Society course today!

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.