Knowing the nautical rules of the road and practicing basic safety protocol is essential to reducing your risk of boating accidents. You can find excellent boating safety information and specific legal requirements for recreational boating on the Transport Canada website; be sure to check out their Safe Boating Guide booklet.
The booklet covers various topics to ensure boaters take the necessary precautions to stay safe on the water, such as construction requirements, what to do in an emergency, and how to fuel safely.
Canada has straightforward regulations for watercrafts aimed to keep boaters safe from harm. “Regulations set a minimum safety standard. Following them or an even higher standard will help make every trip a safe one,” prefaces Transport Canada.
Below are several helpful tips for boating safety to keep in mind on your next excursion.
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Ensure You’re Properly Geared Up
Do you have the proper safety equipment? Do you have at least one personal flotation device (PFD) for everyone on board? The types of safety equipment that you are required to have is dependent upon the type and size of your vessel. For instance, sailboats and powerboats between six and nine meters are required to carry:
- one PFD per person;
- a reboarding device;
- a buoyant heaving line at least 15 m long (or a lifebuoy attached to buoyant line);
- a watertight flashlight;
- six flares;
- a manual propelling device or an anchor with at least 15 m of cable or rope;
- a bailer or manual bilge pump;
- a sound-signaling device or appliance;
- navigation lights;
- a magnetic compass;
- a radar reflector;
- a 5BC fire extinguisher if you have a motor; and
- a 5BC fire extinguisher if you have a fuel-burning appliance.
To determine the exact requirements for your specific vessel, see the booklet discussed above or contact Transport Canada.
Know the Rules of the Road
Knowing and obeying the rules of the road, outlined in the booklet, will help keep you and your passengers safe. If a power-driven vessel is approaching your port side, proceed on your course and speed. If another vessel approaches your starboard side, stay out of the vessel’s way. And if a vessel approaches from your stern, maintain your course and speed.
Additionally, the following are a few basic tips for navigating safely on water:
- Stay alert to weather conditions. Use your phone, radio, and keep an eye on the sky.
- Always have a lookout.
- Try not to boat in foggy weather or when there are high winds.
- Stay clear of shipping lanes.
- Forgo alcohol. (It’s not only dangerous, but illegal.)
- Do not operate your boat recklessly. Driving too fast, trying to spray swimmers, and showing off are prime causes of boating accidents.
Make a Sail Plan
It’s vital to let someone on land know where you are going each time you travel by boat. As a precautionary measure, make a detailed sail plan, (also referred to as a trip plan) that:
- describes your boat;
- where you will be travelling; and
- when you are expected to return.
Make a sail plan even for short boat trips. You can give it to someone you trust and tell that person to contact the Rescue Coordination Centre if you aren’t back within the appropriate timeframe.
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Legal Consultant for Boating Accidents in Ontario
If you are in need of legal counsel regarding a boating accident, or have questions about liability after a boating injury, contact Preszler Law in Ontario for a free legal consultation. Call 1-800-JUSTICE® or contact us online.