It’s boating season: be safe

With the current warm weather, it’s the perfect opportunity to ensure you are prepared for taking to the water.

  • May. 11, 2016 8:00 p.m.
Al Millsap

Al Millsap

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

With the current warm weather, it’s the perfect opportunity to ensure you are prepared for taking to the water.

“Stuart Lake is beautiful but can be very unpredictable,” said Al Millsap, Marina Manager at Stuart Lake.

“Sometimes, you can get winds coming from three different directions.”

For Millsap, it really is all about safety on the lake.

“It’s not enough to have life jackets, you’ve got to wear them,” Millsap said.

According to the BC Coroners Service, between 2008- 2012:

  • 58.7 per cent of drowning deaths occur between May and August
  • 81.1 per cent of drowning victims were male
  • Alcohol and/or drugs were contributing factors in 40.2 per cent of drowning deaths
  • People between the ages of 20-29 were most likely to be victims of drowning

Of the 397 deaths just over 50 per cent (200) were involved in recreational activities such as swimming and boating, 44.1 per cent (175) involved falls into water, motor vehicle incidents where vehicles landed in water or deaths in bathtubs; and 5.5 per cent (220 were occupational.)

Here are a few simple safety tips to remember according to the RCMP:

  • If you cannot swim, stay out of the water and seek the shade instead.
  • Wear a personal flotation device. Tragedy can strike in an instant. Don’t assume that you will have time to put on a life jacket.
  • Watch your speed. Don’t race to the lake and don’t race on the lake. Speed is a major contributor to incidents on the roadways and on the water.
  • Do not put your feet in fast moving water that is deeper than the length of your arm. If a foot becomes entrapped by rocky bottom in deep water, the current will eventually push the swimmer over face first into the water.
  • If you are going to a less-traveled area, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • Always remember that alcohol and water don’t mix. Impaired driving laws are the same for operating a boat as they are for a vehicle.

There are safety equipment rules for all types of watercrafts, from canoes to yachts. In addition, anyone who operates a power-driven craft must have proof of competency. For more information, visit Transport Canada’s safe boating website.