With the summer finally upon us, and Canada Day just around the corner, cottagers are busy packing up their SUVS to head up North for the long weekend.
Boating safety can be the last thing on your mind when you're flying around in a tube, but with the influx of traffic on the water this weekend, avoiding an accident should be at the top of your list.
Everyone who has had a traumatic water experience can tell you that it's better to err on the side of caution when it comes to being safe on the water, and the majority of water related accidents can be avoided by following some simple guidelines.
Last year 133 people died in accidents linked directly to boating, with approximately 6,000 suffering non-fatal injuries. According to the National Drowning Trends Report, alcohol played a role in 38 per cent of all boating fatalities, 44 per cent of recreational boating deaths, and 43 percent of canoeing deaths.
BOATsmart! is pushing Canadians to take their official boating license exam if they have not done so already, as anyone who does not have a license can be subject to a $250 fine. The 50 question exam can be taken online or in person, and can be repeated until a passing grade is met.
If you're planning on boating this weekend, show some patience when happy hour hits in cottage country to ensure that your wits are still about you while you're in a vulnerable position.
Keep these tips in mind while you're on the water.
Floating is better than sinking - So you're probably not going to get a date while wearing a life jacket, but it could be the difference between life and death in an emergency situation. Even if you choose not to sport a life jacket, make sure that you have enough fully functional life jackets for everyone on board.
Alertness is next to godliness - With the overwhelming number of alcohol related boating injuries, it's best to remain sober while operating a pleasure craft. Save the drinking tomfoolery for when you return, it always tastes better when you had to wait for it anyways.
Be in touch - Always tell someone where you're going when you are out on the water and give him or her a time when you're planning on returning. Cellular signal is usually hit or miss, and they can get wet, or have battery issues. If you're a regular boater, consider getting a VHF Marine radio that can transmit your location to rescuers in the case of an emergency. They go for around $100 and can be found online or at most outdoor retailers.
Knowledge is power - Spend some time getting familiar with boating rules and regulations, and be sure to complete your exam at www.boatsmartexam.com.