The temperature gauge is soaring, and the waters have all thawed. You know what this means, BOATING SEASON HAS BEGUN! Everyone loves the feel of the wind in your face, the spray of the water as the boat moves through it, and the peacefulness that comes about when out on the open water.

Follow these great safety tips to make sure that your day on the water does not turn into a day of tragedy. Boating safety starts with you.

Boating Season Safety Tips

Check the Weather

Before heading out on any boating adventure you should check the weather. As we know, here in Canada the weather is constantly changing, and though the day may start out sunny and beautiful, that could change in an instant.

There are many different weather apps you can get right on your phone to make this easy for you. If you are already on the water and notice a change in the weather, such as dark clouds, a major wind shift or a sudden drop in temperature, play it safe and head to shore.

Pleasure Craft Operator Card

Since 1999, it has been mandatory that anyone operating a boat must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) or equivalent to legally operate a motorboat in Canada. Even if the motor is not in use (such as a sailboat operating under sail), if the boat is equipped with a motor then the operator must have their PCOC.

Click here for more information on Proof of Competency and PCOC requirements.

Follow Common Sense

When operating any type of pleasure craft, you must use common sense. By this we mean operate at a safe speed and be alert at all times, especially in crowded areas.

When approaching larger vessels and watercraft, be mindful that they be restricted in their ability to stop or turn, and my not be able to avoid a collision if you get too close.

It is also important to be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids. These have been placed there for your safety.

Also, if you plan on being in or around the water, proper safety and common sense says – LEARN TO SWIM. You never know when your life may depend on it.

Make Sure You Have a Back-Up Skipper

It’s a good idea to make sure there is more than one person on board who is familiar with all aspects of operating the boat, as well as boat safety. If something happens to your primary operator, such as illness or injury, it’s important to have someone on board who can safely and competently get everyone else on board back to the safety of the shore.

Make Proper Use of Lifejackets

Most drowning victims of boating accidents were found not to be wearing a lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD). Make sure every passenger on board, including children and pets, have and are wearing a properly fitted lifejacket prior to departure.

Before departing, you must make sure there are enough properly-sized lifejackets for everyone aboard your vessel.

Don’t Drink and Boat

Drinking and driving rules apply to boating as well. If you are found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while operating a boat, you can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada.

If you want to consume alcohol while boating, in most provinces you must be anchored and have permanent sleeping, kitchen and toilet facilities aboard.