Summer Safety Overview: Boating Basics

Summer in Ontario is around the corner, which means it’s time to brush up on boating safety. Boating is a fun, relaxing, and exceedingly popular pastime in Canada. There are roughly 10-million boaters in the country, according to the Canada Safety Council, each of whom faces risks when they hit the water.  For personal injury lawyers with expertise in boating accident claims, the start of boating season is the perfect time to review some helpful tips and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer on the water.

Boating Safety Basics

Alcohol impairment is a serious problem on Canadian waterways; roughly a third of all boating deaths in Canada are alcohol-related. As such, our first important tip is to avoid drinking and boating at all costs. Safe boating requires you to be alert and aware at all times; there are no road signs or traffic lights to direct traffic on the water. Alcohol – along with the fatigue and sun exposure that come with a long day of boating – dull the senses and impair judgment, which can lead to avoidable mistakes and serious injuries. Drinking and boating is also illegal.

Our next important tip is to always equip your boat with as many personal flotation devices (PFDs) as there are people on board. Whether you’re operating a two-person canoe or a ten-person cruiser, you are required by law to provide a PFD – be it a life jacket, a ring buoy, or otherwise – to everyone.

Be aware of the weather before you depart and throughout your trip. Check the forecast immediately prior to launch – if it predicts storms, stay at home. If you notice sudden weather changes during your trip, return to shore as quickly as possible.

For those who operate larger crafts, many boating safety experts and personal injury lawyers recommend having a standard pre-departure checklist. You should review it before each trip and ensure your boat is stocked with PFDs, sound-producing devices, navigation and distress lights, distress signals, tools and spare parts, fire extinguishers, ventilation equipment, bilges, docking and anchoring gear, weather forecasts, and all necessary documents. You should also check your signals, fuel and oil, and battery before leaving shore.

Our final basic safety tip is to communicate with someone on land before, during, and after your trip. Let a friend or family member know how long you’ll be gone and where you’re going. If you’re close to shore, check in via cell phone from time to time. If you’re heading into open waters, you may need to communicate by radio. Having a touchpoint on the land will improve your chances of recovery if an emergency occurs.

Contact an experienced boating accident lawyer

If you suffer a serious boating injury despite these precautions, contact Will Davidson LLP to learn how our experienced team of personal injury lawyers can help. Call today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.


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