Boating Safety Tips to Keep You Safe This Summer

Summertime in Ontario is sometimes known as ‘trauma season’ in the personal injury law and healthcare fields due to the elevated number of serious accidents that occur between late May and mid-September. More people are on the roads during this period, either driving to and from the cottage, or riding their bicycles, or simply walking around their cities. There are also more people on the water; boating, after all, is one of Ontario’s preferred ways to enjoy the summer weather. For this reason, boating accident lawyers often receive an influx of inquiries during the summer months.

Boating, of course, is an inherently risky pastime. Every summer, dozens of Ontarians are killed or seriously injured in largely avoidable boating accidents. With several weeks of summer remaining, and with a high-profile boating accident case in the news, now is the perfect time to brush up on boating safety strategies and techniques.

Rules, Laws, and Regulations

Canadian boaters, including those in Ontario, are governed by the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. Within this act are a series of laws and regulations that pertain specifically to pleasure craft and small vessel operators, including the Small Vessel Regulations, the Competency of Operators of Pleasure Craft Regulations, and more.

It is important to note that the federal Criminal Code applies to boaters who drive while impaired, fail to stop at the scene of an accident, or operate an unseaworthy vessel. If you plan to boat this summer, be sure to first review the rules and laws of the water.

If you are injured in a boating accident, you may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Contact our experienced team of boating accident lawyers to learn more.

Before You Head Out on the Water

The foundations of safe boating are built before you head out on the water. Here are a few steps to take to ensure a safe journey:

Inspect your boat. This step only takes a few minutes, but it can save lives. A quick check of your boat’s exterior and interior, its engine, the equipment on board, and its fuel levels can prevent dangerous situations on the water.

Check the weather. It might seem like common sense to monitor weather conditions before departing, but this step is easily forgotten in the haste to get out on the water and enjoy the summer. Thunderstorms can strike quickly and can create dangerous conditions, even on small bodies of water. Review the immediate forecast before you leave.

Tell someone on shore where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. It is dangerous to go out on the water without notifying someone that you’ll be gone. Telling a friend or family member where you’re going and how long you plan to be away is a quick and easy insurance policy if you’re unable to call for help while in trouble.

Always keep safety equipment on board. It is important to carry at least one flotation device for every passenger on board. In smaller vessels, it is advisable to wear your flotation device at all times. Additional safety equipment may include a first aid kit, a flashlight, flares, and a smartphone.

While Out on the Water

While out on the water, Ontario boaters have certain ‘rules of the road’ that they are advised to follow. These include:

Avoiding ‘close quarter’ situations. Boaters in small vessels and pleasure crafts must do everything possible to steer clear of larger vessels. In particular, they should stay away from shipping lanes and avoid tugs and other towing vessels.

Avoiding dangerous behaviour. This is where the bulk of common-sense boating rules come in to play. There are two primary causes of fatal and serious boating accidents in Ontario: excessive speed and intoxication.

Boaters must always operate at a safe speed, and that speed will depend on a variety of factors. Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide lists the following:

  • The boater’s ability to see: conditions such as fog, mist, rain, or darkness necessitate lower speeds
  • Current, wind and water conditions
  • How quickly your boat can change direction
  • How many and what types of vessels are near you
  • The presence of navigational hazards such as rocks and tree stumps

It is also critically important not to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Impaired boaters, just like impaired drivers, pose grave risks to everyone else on the water. Impaired boaters also face similar consequences under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Contact Will Davidson LLP

Will Davidson LLP has been helping seriously injured accident victims in Ontario, including victims of boating accidents, access compensation for the damages they have incurred for decades. If you’ve been injured in an accident on the water, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our experienced team of boating accident lawyers will be happy to review your claim, assess the viability of your case, and provide the guidance and advice you need during your recovery.

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