Red Cross Infographic – Boating Fatalities in Canada

Red Cross Infographic - Boating Fatalities in Canada



Staying Safe During Boating Season

Each year, 525 Canadians are killed in water accidents. With summer boating season around the corner, everyone should be aware of the dangers associated with boating-related fatalities. There are at least 166 boating deaths that occur every year in Canada, so what can you do to keep you, your friends, and your family safe when you’re out on the water?

Always Wear Life Jackets

It really doesn’t matter how strong of a swimmer you are. Life jackets are the best way to prevent drowning deaths. Over 24 percent of boating deaths occur when the person isn’t wearing a life jacket but there are life jackets on board. It’s been shown that wearing a life jacket could prevent 90 percent of boating-related drownings. That’s a huge number!

There’s never an excuse not to wear a life jacket! If you forgot yours, you can rent one at almost any marina for a very low fee. If you don’t have a life jacket, you shouldn’t be on a boat that day.

Ensure Life Jackets Fit Properly

Much like a bike helmet, if a life jacket doesn’t fit well, it isn’t going to adequately protect the person wearing it. If it’s too big, especially on children, they could slip out of it as they’re struggling or if there’s a strong current. The Coast Guard suggests the jacket should fit “comfortably snug”. If you can’t cinch the jacket to where it’s snug, it’s too big and the person needs a different size.

Every manufacturer has its own sizing guide, so the size of one brand might not fit you as well as the same size in another brand. It’s recommended you and your kids try them on before getting on the boat. The life jackets should be snug, but they shouldn’t be so tight that they’re uncomfortable.

Newer models of life jackets are fairly low profile, making the puffy life jackets of yesterday almost obsolete. Remember to take your clothing into account when purchasing life jackets. If you’re going to be in winter or cold-weather clothes, this needs to be considered so the jacket still fits over a thick sweater or a coat.

Don’t Drink and Recreate

Everyone knows drunk driving is incredibly dangerous. Drinking and boating is just as lethal, and over 50 percent of people who die from boating accidents had alcohol present in their system or its presence was suspected. Many people think the danger lies with controlling the boat while under the influence, but it’s actually in drowning, especially if the person isn’t wearing a life jacket. Swimming while intoxicated is dangerous, but falling off of the boat and into the water is just as potentially life-threatening. If everyone on the boat is drunk, then the chances of the victim being rescued promptly are extremely low.

Staying safe on the water is overlooked in favour of staying safe in the water. If you have any plans to spend time on a boat this season, ensure you and your family have taken water safety classes together and everyone has properly fitting life jackets. If your kids aren’t strong swimmers, getting them into swimming classes greatly improves their safety so everyone can have fun this summer.