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Water/Boat Safety

Boating Safety

You MUST have your boating license before the age of 19, and REQUIRE safety equipment on board at all times

If your boat is registered outside of Canada you must comply with the safety equipment requirements of that country.

There are horsepower restrictions for different ages:

  • under 12 years 10 Hp maximum
  • between 12-16 years old 40 Hp max
  • 16 years and older no power restrictions

Alcohol and boating do not mix, criminal chargers will be given if found operating a vessel under the influence

If you're planning on going on a boating trip leave some information behind with family or friends so that they know how to contact you or where to find you.

You MUST have a personal flotation device on board for every passenger.

IMPORTANT to remember about safety if something goes wrong. There are a few options to get a hold of help if you have the proper equipment like , Marine (VHF) Radios, GMDSS, or the Cell Phone if you are in range

Distress Signals could safe your life, Marine Radio, Code Flags, Distress Clothing, Arm Signals, Sound Signals, Flares, Dye Markers, and Flashlight.

Important safety equipment for a pleasure craft: PFD, buoyant heaving line 15m, anchor with no less than 15m in length, paddles, a bailing can or manual water pump, air horn or whistle, some kind of light source, fire extinguisher,

Visit the boating safety website for more information at

Impaired boating, the law and the penalties

The average person thinks twice about drinking and operating a motor vehicle, but however it is the opposite for the operation of a vessel

It is an offence to operate any form of vehicle under the influence of alcohol, whether in motion or at a stand still

Reports of previous fatal boating accidents indicate approximately 42% of victims had been drinking, and 74% of those were legally impaired.

Police officers have the authority to demand the operator of the vessel a breath sample if they feel it is needed.

Failure to produce either can result in the same penalties as impaired boating

Penalties range from $300 to imprisonment for no less then 90 days to a maximum sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years.

1st Offence = fine not less than $300

2nd Offence= Imprisonment for not less than 14 days

3rd Offence= Imprisonment for not less than 90 days

Fire safety on the water

  • Explosions and fires on boats are decreasing even with the rapid growth of new boaters each year.
  • Explosions most often occur after refuelling
  • Gasoline is not the only flammable substance onboard boats; most common things are butane and propane.
  • All vessels that have built in fuel tanks should have ventilation tubes attached to them to decrease the likely hood of an explosion.
  • These crafts should have a blower to eliminate any fumes that get into the bilge or anywhere where it may combust.
  • When refuelling the boat close all hatches, doors, and windows. Keep a fire extinguisher close by and make sure there are no open flames within 9 meters of the gas.
  • After refuelling your boat hose down any spills, open doors hatches and windows to ventilate the boat and turn on the blower to get any fumes out.
  • Check all fuel lines, gaskets, fittings, and portable tanks, it is important to take these precautions to prevent your vessel from catching on fire.
  • It is imperative to get your fire extinguishers recharged or inspected by a properly authorised person.
  • Keep the bilge clean of dirt, oil soaked rags, or loose tools, small things that might fall into it.
  • On small outboards if you have a stove, cover it on at least 3 sides, this will prevent fires and bodily burns.

If you have any questions on this matter contact the Canada Safety Council.
(613) 739-1535 and in Facsimile (613) 739-1566.

Board Sailing

  • Board sailing is the fastest growing water sport in the world.
  • It can also be one of the most dangerous water sports in Canada because of the rapid changes in the weather and water temperature of lakes.
  • The law is you must have an approved PFD or lifejacket. Some come with a built in board harness.
  • A wet suit is not considered a PFD, but is good if you are in the cold water.
  • The largest danger to sailors is Hypothermia; it can easily kill you or make you very sick.
  • Things you should have for warm weather are fairly basic like approved PFD, wetsuit, hat, sun screen.
  • Things you should have for cold weather are an approved PFD, wetsuit or protective clothing to prevent wind chill, water proof boots or shoes, toque, gloves.
  • Always check the weather before departing for a trip.
  • Wind direction can play an important roll in your trip. For example you may have really good winds to get there, and then have absolutely no wind or the wrong wind direction to get back.
  • Don't push your limits, if you know you won't be able to get back then you've gone too far.
  • When boarding in salt water rinse all rigging off with fresh water, every once and a while it would not hurt to clean everything with mild detergents and warm water.
  • Distress signals from a sailboard can be performed by sitting down on it and with your arms straight move them up and down almost like you're trying to fly.

For more information contact the Canadian Coast Guard
Telephone: (416) 831-2300

What you should now about Drowning

Did You Know?

  • Almost five hundred Canadians drown every year
  • Children under ten years old are the second leading cause of preventable deaths in Canad
  • Toddlers have the biggest risk of drowning in backyard pools than anywhere else because that is where the least supervision i
  • Drowning victims never call for help because either they don't have the energy to yell or they're under water
  • Drowning can happen in as little as two to three inches of water and in a matter of seconds
  • Children and water
  • If you have a backyard pool, no matter what size it is you should always have a lifeguard or adult supervisor at all times
  • There is a possibility that your child can drown in the bathtub if the proper precautions aren't taken. Even with an empty tub, it's still considered a hazard. If the child is left unattended they can still slip and fall and seriously hurt themselves
  • Be sure to block off all entrances to your backyard pool by fencing around the whole yard. Ensure the door/fence is locked to prevent access
  • When hot tubs are not in use cover them
  • Whether you're at the cottage, the beach or in the backyard, your kids are your main priority!
  • By learning basic First Aid and CPR, you will be prepared for the worst that can happen

To find out how to get this basic training visit:

Personal Flotation Devices

  • Each year more than one thousand lives are taken due to drowning; hundreds of these are recreational boaters
  • An approved Department of Transportation lifejacket or personal flotation device can prevent almost all of these drowing's
  • Each lifejacket or Personal Flotation Device onboard a watercraft must be Department of Transport approved and the owner of the vessel is responsible for having enough lifejackets on board for everyone
  • Personal Flotation Devices are designed to keep you afloat but not to overturn you onto you're the front side of your body like a lifejacket
  • IMPORTANT: when buying a lifejacket for children make sure it is Department of Transportation because it will be the difference of a matter of life or death situation. Find on that has colours that stand out in the water, sturdy rust proof zippers, large collar for head support
  • Before going boating there is one important thing you should test, your Personal Flotation Device. Go into the water about chest deep and make sure it keeps your head above the water and you're able to breathe easily
  • Don't forget to test your Personal Flotation Device at the beginning of each season
  • REMEMBER Lifejackets/ Personal Flotation Devices save lives

Anglers and hunters safe boating guide

We are concerned

An alarming number of Canadian sportsmen and women who engage in aquatic and boating activities needlessly lost their lives each year through carelessness and a lack of knowledge regarding safety practices.

Regulations - all boats less than 5.5 meters in length must have:

1. An approved Person Flotation Device (PFD) or approved lifejacket for each person aboard
2. A bailing device
3. Two oars and oar-locks or two paddles
4. An efficient sound signal (whistle)
5. A class B1 fire extinguisher if the boat has an inboard motor, a permanently-fixed or built-in fuel tanks or a cooking or heating appliance that burns liquid or gaseous fuel.
6. Lights must comply with collision regulations if permanently fitted.

Lifejacket or a Personal Flotation Device

Life jackets although bulky and uncomfortable are designed to keep an unconscious person afloat, face up, and with the head clear of the water. The PFD, although having less buoyancy than a lifejacket, will keep you afloat. Don't leave shore without it!

Protect Your Neck

  • Facts on diving injuries, Ontario is second in the world in terms of spinal cord injuries as a result of diving.
  • 70% of all sport and recreation related spinal injuries are the result of diving accidents and, tragically they are on the increase.
  • Young people, especially men between 17 and 22, are at the highest risk.
  • Over 40 water-related spinal injuries occurred last year in Ontario and 85% of the victims were male.
  • Private backyard pools are the major site of aquatic spinal injuries.
  • There's nothing pretty about a hospital Emergency Room. Your condition is assessed. A team of doctors and nurses struggle to keep you alive.
  • For you, for your family and friends, it's just the start of the suffering.
  • Rehabilitation: Now, imagine trying to live the life you knew in a body that doesn't function. You will never be able to move your arms or legs.
  • You face isolation, survivor guilt and the stress and agony of coping day to day.
  • Always check the depth before diving in, always check water for rocks and debris, and make your friends aware of the risks involved before they enter the water.

Look Before You Leap
  • Do you take the proper precautions when it comes to pool safety?
  • Guidelines like swim only with "pool supervisors", no horseplay, only walk on the deck don't run.
  • When you have guests tell them that alcohol and swimming don't mix
  • Make sure swimmers are constantly monitored by an adult who has safety equipment and is trained CPR.
  • To keep everyone safe in backyard pools you should mark the depths of the water, informed guests of safe entry techniques, tell guests about diving or feet first only.
  • The law is you must have a fence surrounding your entire yard or pool, and make sure that the fence meets the municipal height requirements
  • Have a self closing mechanism on the door for the fence and an inside latch to prevent opening from the outside.
  • Make sure that you have the proper safety equipment by the pool like: a non-metal reaching pole, a throwing line and buoyant aid, a first aid kit, telephone with emergency numbers, your address and phone number.
  • Over 2000 drowning's in Ontario occur each year, unfortunately they are mostly children.