Avoid A Boating Accident By Being Prepared Before You Head Out On The Water

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As the weather gets warmer, thousands of boaters across the province are preparing for another summer on the water. According to Boating Ontario, more than 15 million Canadians enjoy boating...
Canada Transport
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As the weather gets warmer, thousands of boaters across the province are preparing for another summer on the water.

According to Boating Ontario, more than 15 million Canadians enjoy boating because of the "emotional, behavioural and psychological benefits of being near, around, on, or in water."

And we live in the ideal country to enjoy this activity. Canada has more than 247,000 kilometres of coastline, more than any other country in the world, Statistics Canada reports.

Ontario is ideal for boaters. One-fifth of the province's total area is aquatic, with more than 250,000 lakes, including four of the five Great Lakes, along with countless rivers, waterways and canals.

Whether you have a simple kayak or a cabin cruiser, boating has been credited with boosting mental and physical health. It is a great way to spend a summer day.

However, like any activity, it comes with risks. The Drowning Prevention Research Centre states that there are almost 500 unintentional water-related deaths in Canada each year and approximately one-quarter of these fatalities are boating-related. Boating accidents also send thousands of people to emergency rooms each year suffering from broken bones, burns and lacerations.

If you have been injured in a boating accident, the personal injury team at Gluckstein Lawyers is here to help.

There Can Be Licensing Requirements.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association states that the top five boating activities are fishing, entertaining, nature observation, sightseeing and swimming.

There are three main types of boats - unpowered or man-powered boats, such as canoes and kayaks; sailboats and motorboats. There are also personal watercraft with brand names such as Sea-Doo or Jet Ski.

While there are no licensing requirements for man-powered boats, anyone who operates a power-driven boat needs proof of competency, Transport Canada states.

The most common proof is the Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), which gives operators the basic rules and how to safely operate a boat. This proof of competency is also required if you are operating a sailboat fitted with an auxiliary motor, even when under sail.

The course covers basic boating information such as:

  • minimum safety equipment requirements required on board your boat;
  • the Canadian Buoy system;
  • how to share waterways;
  • a review of all pertinent regulations; and
  • how to respond in an emergency.

Operating a motorboat or personal watercraft without a PCOC can result in a fine of $250, excluding any administrative fees.

Many Deaths Are Avoidable.

It is reported that almost 143 people die annually in Canada while boating and almost all from drowning.

"Sadly, year after year boaters continue to remain unaware of or ignore fundamental yet simple principles of boating safety, and many die," according to a report from Transport Canada and the Canadian Red Cross. "Canadians who faithfully fasten their safety belts and avoid alcohol in the much less dangerous traffic environment embark onto the water without the protection of a properly worn flotation device, often in boats that are unsafe except in ideal conditions. Many boaters are weak swimmers or cannot swim at all.

"Eighteen years of research across Canada show that the vast majority of boaters who die - whether in powered or unpowered boats - have neglected basic principles of boating safety such as always wearing a flotation device, using protective equipment against cold immersion, and verifying weather conditions such as wind, waves, and water temperature. It is probable that most victims failed to obtain appropriate training in boating safety."

Stay Safe on the Water.

According to the Government of Canada's Safe Boating Guide, the safety equipment required to be carried on board is based on the type and length of your boat. This includes having a personal floatation device (PFD) or lifejacket for each person on board.

Discover Boating suggests even experienced boaters should familiarize themselves with these basic safety tips:

  • Get your mandatory Pleasure Craft Operator Card;
  • Always check local weather conditions before setting off. Consider delaying your trip if you notice darkening clouds, changing winds or sudden drops in temperature;
  • Follow a pre-departure checklist to ensure no boating safety rules or precautions have been forgotten. This will help you to be prepared for any possibility on the water;
  • Use common sense, which includes operating at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Be alert and steer clear of large vessels and watercraft that can be restricted in their ability to stop or turn. Be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids;
  • Have more than one person onboard who is familiar with all aspects of your boat's handling, operations and other boating safety tips. It is important to remember that anyone operating the boat must have their PCOC;
  • Inform a family member, friends or staff at your local marina about your float plan. This should include where you are going and how long you will be gone;
  • Assign and fit each person heading out on the water with a lifejacket prior to departure;
  • Save alcohol consumption for your return to dry land. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved, according to studies, which have also shown that the effect of alcohol is exacerbated by external effects such as sun and wind;
  • Even if you are wearing a lifejacket, you should know how to swim; and
  • In addition to obtaining your PCOC, you should also consider additional courses so that you can head out with confidence.

Call Us if You Have Been in a Boating Accident.

A fun summer outing can quickly turn tragic. Many injuries are minor but some can leave lasting consequences and you may be entitled to compensation for damages.

If you have been hurt due to someone else's negligent, intentional or reckless conduct, contact the team at Gluckstein Lawyers.

We have more than 60 years of experience helping personal injury victims and their families with various motor vehicle accidents. If we take your case, it is because we believe there is a reasonable chance we can help you get the right compensation and support for the physical, emotional and mental trauma caused by an accident.

Your initial meeting with our personal injury lawyers is free and without obligation on your part and we never charge you legal fees until your claim is settled.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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