Canadian Safe Boating Course

Transport Canada has made changes to the online exam process and study guide. The old Boater Exam boating license course and test was discontinued on April 15th, 2011. Take the NEW Canadian Online Boating Course! The course material below remains as a resource for all who boat on Canadian waters—particularly experienced boaters who already have their Pleasure Craft Operator Card.


Chapter 3: Water Rescue Equipment

Minimum Equipment Required on Board Vessels

The Canadian Small Vessels Regulations and the International Regulations for preventing collisions (amended for Canada) require all boats to carry a minimum of safety equipment. The size of the pleasure craft determines the equipment required.

Sailboards

Personal Protective Equipment:

  • One Canadian-approved personal flotation device or life jacket of appropriate size for each person on board
  • one buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length. (This equipment is not mandatory if all people on the sailboard are wearing a Canadian-approved flotation device of appropriate size or engaged in an official competition).

Boat Safety Equipment:

  • one manual propelling device. (This equipment is not mandatory if all people on the sailboard are wearing a Canadian- approved flotation device of appropriate size or engaged in an official competition ).

Distress Equipment:

  • a watertight flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares of Type A,B or C.(This equipment is not mandatory if all people on the sailboard are wearing a Canadian- approved flotation device of appropriate size or engaged in an official competition ).

Navigation Equipment:

  • a sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance


Paddle boats and Water cycles

Personal Protective Equipment:
  • One Canadian-approved personal flotation device or life jacket of appropriate size for each person on board
  • one buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length. (This equipment is not mandatory if all people on board are wearing a Canadian-approved flotation device of appropriate size).

Distress Equipment:

Paddle boat
  • a watertight flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares of Type A,B or C. (This equipment is not mandatory if all people on board are wearing a Canadian-approved flotation device of appropriate size).

Navigation Equipment:

  • a sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance
  • navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations if the pleasure craft is operated after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.


Canoes, Kayaks, Rowboats and Rowing shells

Personal Protective Equipment:
  • One Government of Canada (Department of Transport) approved personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket for small vessels of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length

Boat Safety Equipment:

Canoes, Kayaks, Rowboats
  • One manual propelling device (paddle or oars) OR an anchor with not less than 15m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One bailer or manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose to enable a person using the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over the side of the vessel

Navigation Equipment:

  • A sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance audible at distances of one-half a marine mile (0.93 km)
  • Navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations if the pleasure craft is operated after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.


Unpowered Pleasure Craft not over 6m in length

Personal Protective Equipment:
  • One Government of Canada (Department of Transport) approved personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket for small vessels of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length

Boat Safety Equipment:

Unpowered Boat
  • One manual propelling device (paddle or oars) OR an anchor with not less than 15m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One Class 5BC fire extinguisher .. ( IF .. the craft is equipped with a fuel burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance).
  • One bailer or manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose to enable a person using the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over the side of the vessel. (This equipment is not required for any self-bailing sealed hull sailing vessel fitted with a recess-type cockpit that cannot contain a sufficient quantity of water to make the vessel capsize or a multi-hull vessel that has subdivided multiple-sealed hull construction).

Navigation Equipment:

  • A sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance audible at distances of one-half a marine mile (0.93 km)
  • Navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations if the pleasure craft is operated after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.


Personal Watercraft (P.W.C.)

Personal Protective Equipment:
  • One Government of Canada (Department of Transport) approved personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket for small vessels of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length

Boat Safety Equipment:

  • One manual propelling device (paddle or oars) OR an anchor with not less than 15m of cable, rope or chain in any combination. (This equipment is not mandatory if all people on the Personal Watercraft are wearing a Canadian-approved flotation device of appropriate size).
  • One bailer or manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose to enable a person using the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over the side of the vessel. (This equipment is not mandatory if all people on the Personal Watercraft are wearing a Canadian-approved flotation device of appropriate size).
  • One Class 5BC fire extinguisher. (This equipment is not mandatory if all people on the Personal Watercraft are wearing a Canadian-approved flotation device of appropriate size).

Distress Equipment:

  • A watertight flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares of type A,B or C

Navigation Equipment:

  • A sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance audible at distances of one-half a marine mile (0.93 km)

The Canadian Coast Guard and P.W.C. manufacturers strongly advise against operating this type of craft at night.



Not over 6m Powered

Boat Safety Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment:
  • One Government of Canada (Department of Transport) approved  personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket for small vessels of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length

Boat Safety Equipment:

  • One manual propelling device (paddle or oars) OR an anchor with not less than 15m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One Class 5BC fire extinguisher (if the craft is equipped with an inboard engine, a fixed fuel tank of any size, or a fuel burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance).
  • One bailer or one manual water pump fitted with sufficient hose to enable one person using the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over the side of the vessel. (A bailer or manual water pump is not required for any multi-hull vessel that has subdivided multiple-sealed hull construction.)

Distress Equipment:

  • A watertight flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares of type A,B or C

Navigation Equipment:

  • A sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance audible at distances of one-half a marine mile (0.93 km)
  • Navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations if the pleasure craft is operated after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility.


Vessels over 6m but not over 8m

Personal Protective Equipment:
  • One Government of Canada (Department of Transport) approved  personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket for small vessels of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length or one approved life buoys with an outside diameter of 610 mm or 762 mm that is attached to a buoyant line of not less than 15m in length
  • a re-boarding device if the freeboard of the vessel is greater than 0.5 m

Boat Safety Equipment:

  • One manual propelling device (paddle or oars) OR an anchor with not less than 15m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One bailer or manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose to enable a person using the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over then side of the vessel
  • One Class 5BC fire extinguisher, if the pleasure craft is a power driven vessel, plus another class 5BC fire extinguisher if the pleasure craft is equipped with a fuel burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

Distress Equipment:

  • a watertight flashlight
  • 6 Canadian approved flares of Type A,B or C

    You are exempt from carrying pyrotechnic distress signals if:

  • operating in a river, canal or lake in which it can at no time be more than one mile from shore OR
  • engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition and has no sleeping arrangements.

Navigation Equipment:

  • a sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance
  • navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations if the pleasure craft is operated after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility


Vessels over 8m but not over 12m

Personal Protective Equipment:
  • One Government of Canada (Department of Transport) approved  personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket for small vessels of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length
  • One approved life buoys with an outside diameter of 610 mm or 762 mm that is attached to a buoyant line of not less than 15m in length
  • a re-boarding device if the freeboard of the vessel is greater than 0.5

Boat Safety Equipment:

  • An anchor with not less than 30m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • One bailer
  • One manual water pump fitted with or accompanied by sufficient hose to enable a person using the pump to pump water from the bilge of the vessel over the side of the vessel
  • One Class 10BC fire extinguisher, if the pleasure craft is a power driven vessel, plus another class 10BC fire extinguisher if the pleasure craft is equipped with a fuel burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance

Distress Equipment:

  • a watertight flashlight
  • 12 Canadian approved flares of Type A, B, C, or D (not more than 6 can be Class D)

You are exempt from carrying pyrotechnic distress signals if:

  • operating in a river, canal or lake in which it can at no time be more than one mile from shore OR
  • engaged in an official competition or in final preparation for an official competition and has no sleeping arrangements.

Navigation Equipment:

  • a sound signaling device or a sound signaling appliance
  • navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations


Vessels over 12m but not over 20m

Personal Protective Equipment:
Boat Safety Equipment
  • One Government of Canada (Department of Transport) approved  personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket for small vessels of appropriate size for each person on board
  • One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m in length
  • One approved life buoys with an outside diameter of 610 mm or 762 mm that is equipped with a self-igniting light and is attached to a buoyant line of not less than 15m in length
  • a re-boarding device

Boat Safety Equipment:

  • An anchor with not less than 50m of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • bilge pumping arrangements
  • One Class 10BC fire extinguisher at each of the following locations:
    1. at each access to any space where a fuel burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted
    2. at the entrance to any accommodation space
    3. at the entrance to the engine room space
  • one axe
  • Two buckets, each with a capacity of 10 litres or more.

Distress Equipment:

  • a watertight flashlight
  • 12 Canadian approved flares of Type A,BC, or D (not more than 6 can be Class D)

Navigation Equipment:

  • Two sound signaling appliances (bell and whistle)
  • Navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations


Vessels over over 20m

Personal Protective Equipment:
Boat Safety Equipment
  • one personal flotation device or life jacket of appropriate size for each person on board
  • one buoyant heaving line of not less than 30 metres in length
  • two life buoys, each of which has an outside diameter of 762 mm. and is attached to a buoyant heaving line of not less than 30 metres in length, and one of which is equipped with a self-igniting light
  • a lifting harness with appropriate rigging
  • a re-boarding device

Boat Safety Equipment:

  • an anchor with not less than 50 metres of cable, rope or chain in any combination
  • bilge-pumping arrangements
  • one power-driven fire pump located outside the machinery space, with one fire hose and nozzle whereby a jet of water can be directed into any part of the pleasure craft
  • one Class 10BC fire extinguisher at each of the following locations:
    1. at each access to any space where a fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigerating appliance is fitted
    2. at the entrance to any accommodation space
    3. at the entrance to the engine room space
  • two axes
  • four buckets, each with a capacity of 10 litres or more

Distress Equipment:

  • a watertight flashlight
  • 12 Canadian approved flares of Type A,BC, or D (not more than 6 can be Class D)

Navigation Equipment:

  • Two sound signaling appliances, as specified in the Collision Regulations
  • Navigation lights that meet the applicable standards set out in the Collision Regulations


Additional Recommended Equipment

For all boats, the above equipment is obviously the minimum required.  To effectively respond to a boating incident, the following additional items of equipment should be carried on board:

Emergency Kit:

  • Pyrotechnic distress signals;  There are four types of distress signals:
    1. rocket parachute flares,
    2. star rockets or shells which throw stars one or two at a time,
    3. hand flares (limited visibility because they are at water level)
    4. smoke flares (flares giving off orange smoke .. only effective during daylight).
  • First aid kit;
  • Repair kit (see section 2.1);
  • One life buoy with 15m buoyant heaving line
  • Two blankets
  • One flutter board
Rescuing falls overboard emergencies

Make sure that you have a method or equipment to get a person who is in the water, back onto your boat.

Consideration should be given as to how this will work if the person has sustained injuries

As required, other equipment could be added to this basic material, including a pole, a communications system, etc. (or a magnetic compass to assist the operator in determining direction, although the operator must be aware of any nearby metallic or electrical devices which are likely to distort the readings).



Equipment Maintenance and Storage

A properly equipped boat will be of little use if the materials on board are unusable because of breakage or early wear and tear.  Maintaining and storing equipment not only makes sense aesthetically and economically, but the safety of boaters and the safety of their passengers depends on it.

Flotation Devices

There are two main types of flotation devices: life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFD). PFD's are increasingly popular because they are designed for comfort and thermal protection.  As a rule, the more body surface covered by the PFD, the better its thermal protection.  PFD's exist in vest and suit form. Although more expensive than life jackets, PFD's offer better protection, more comfort and more elegance.

PFD's and/or life jackets approved status will become void if they have been repaired or altered. Do not dry PFD's in sunlight.

Note: Never use your PFD or life jacket as a fender or a cushion; damaging them voids  their approved status.

PFD’S and/or life jackets must fit snugly while allowing free movement of legs and arms.

Approval:

In Canada, PFD's and life jackets are approved by the Canadian Department of Transport. Devices approved by the US government or the US Coast Guard are not Government of Canada-approved. (If it is a foreign vessel then the rules applied are the rules of their home country)

Colour:

Only red, yellow or orange life jackets meet Government of Canada standards. PFD’s however, come in a wide variety of styles and colours.


   Life jackets Personal Floatation Devices
Behavior in water
  • Once a person is immersed, it keeps face out of the water and tilts the body slightly backward
  • allows persons to float comfortably with their face out of the water
Appropriate for
which boats?
  • All pleasure craft and some commercial vessels
  • All pleasure craft
Sizes
  • up to 18 kg. (40 lb)
  • 18 to 40 kg. (40 - 90)
  • Over 40 kg. (90 lb)
  • Various sizes, depending on chest measurement and weight
Models
  • Jacket
  • Over 120 approved models available in Canada
Advantages
  • Reversible
  • High buoyancy
  • Affordable
  • Ensures face-up position in cases of unconsciousness
  • Adjustable
  • Versatile and elegant
  • Freedom of movement
  • Protection against effects of cold water
  • Accessories: pockets, hood, harnesses
Disadvantages
  • More uncomfortable (which is why people often don’t wear them)
  • Poor protection from effects of cold water
  • Require careful maintenance
  • Less effective if wrong size or improperly fastened
  • More expensive than a life jacket
  • less effective in rolling over
    unconscious victim
  • less buoyant than a life jacket

Materials

Kapok:

Kapok, often used to manufacture life jackets and cushions, is contained in vinyl coverings which are easily punctured.  Kapok deteriorates quickly and loses its buoyancy.  Kapok can support 25 times its weight.

Single-cell foam:

Polyethylene and airex are two very common types of foam.  Foam is a very long-lasting buoyant material.

Maintenance

Regularly check that life jackets or PFD's are still properly buoyant. The foam should not be too rigid. Kapok sacks must be light, soft to the touch and puncture-free.

Life jackets and PFD's should be worn on board.  They should not be used for kneeling, sitting or as a fender.

When wet, rinse flotation gear in fresh water and hang to dry in the open air or a well-ventilated location.  Do not expose them to direct heat.

Store life jackets and PFD's in a cool, well-ventilated area.

Clean with mild soap and water. Strong detergents, dry cleaning and petroleum products can damage flotation gear.



Positive Attitudes

Caution and foresight in regard to equipment means:

Caution and foresight

  1. Wear a personal flotation device at all times;
  2. Handle your equipment with care;
  3. Obey safety rules concerning fuel and oil tanks;
  4. Properly maintain and store your boat and its cargo.

Be aware of effects: waves, sounds, coordination and reflexes.



Use of Safety Equipment and Requirement to Inform persons on board

  1. Wear a personal flotation device. The technique for putting on personal flotation devices in the water should include the following steps:
    1. Spread the device open with the inside facing up out of the water,
    2. Rotate the device so as to look at the neck opening,
    3. Extend both arms through arm openings;
    4. Lift arms over the head;
    5. Fasten the device to fit snugly.
  2. As a safety measure, the operator of a pleasure craft should read the manufacturer’s instructions before using pyrotechnic distress signals, and check the expiry date.
    It is important to note that the “pyrotechnic distress signals” to be carried on board a pleasure craft must be approved by the Department of Transport Canada, in accordance with the Small Vessels Regulations, Material Standards - Pyrotechnic Distress Signals.
  3. As well, the operator should locate the required safety equipment in readily accessible places on board the craft.
  4. The operator of a pleasure craft should inform the persons on board about the following safety points:
    • The location of personal flotation devices and/or life jackets;
    • The techniques for putting on personal flotation devices and/or life jackets;
    • The techniques for putting on personal flotation devices and/or life jackets when in the water;
    • The importance of wearing personal flotation devices and/or life jackets at all times;
    • The location of the emergency kit;
    • The importance of keeping oneself low, on the centre line, and holding on to a rigid part of the pleasure craft while moving around on board;
    • The importance of keeping one’s hands, arms and legs inside the pleasure craft when approaching or leaving a dock;
    • The effects of the motion of the pleasure craft, sunlight, waves, wind, sound and alcohol on them; and
    • Their roles in the event of emergencies.


Responding to hull leaks or flooding.

The following actions should be taken in response to a hull leak or flooding such as when water is seen to be rising in the pleasure craft or accumulating at the bottom of the craft:

  1. Locate the source of the hull leak or the flooding.
  2. Stop the leakage or the source of flooding if possible;
  3. Remove accumulations of water in the hold or other compartments of the pleasure craft  by  incorporating  either  hand-held  bailer’s,  manual  pumps or  bilge pumping systems as appropriate to the circumstances and to the craft; and
  4. Use or exhibit signals to indicate distress and need of assistance if necessary.

The operator of a pleasure craft should carry on board at all times tools and materials to temporarily stop hull leaks or flooding.



Responding to capsizing, swamping, sinking and grounding.

The following actions should be taken in response to a pleasure craft that capsizes, that swamps, that sinks or that runs aground:

  1. Don personal flotation devices or life jackets
  2. Stay with the craft when appropriate;
  3. Account for persons previously on board; and
  4. Use or exhibit signals to indicate distress and need of assistance if necessary.

Responding to cold water immersion or wind chill

  1. “Hypothermia” is a drop in body temperature below the normal level that most frequently develops from exposure to abnormally low temperatures such as:
    • Immersion in cold water
    • Exposure to cool air in water-soaked clothing, or
    • Prolonged exposure to low environmental temperatures
  2. The following signs and symptoms represent the impact on the mental and muscle functions of the persons exposed to hypothermia as it progresses:
    • Shivering and slurred speech, conscious but withdrawn at the early stage;
    • Slow and weak pulse, slow respiration, lacks coordination, irrational, confused and sleepy at intermediate stage;
    • Weak, irregular or absent pulse or respiration, loss of consciousness at final stage.
  3. The following actions should be taken in the presence of a person found to be suffering from hypothermia:
    • Remove the person from the source of cold exposure;
    • Provide dry shelter;
    • If possible, prevent further decrease in body temperature and warm the person’s body gradually by:
      • Replacing wet clothing with dry clothing,
      • Wrapping the person in blankets,
      • Placing dry coverings over the person,
      • Covering the person’s head and neck,
      • Covering the person with an insulating device and vapour barrier;
      • Applying warm dry objects (40 to 45C).
    • If asked for, offer warm liquids but do not give alcohol or hot stimulants to the person;
    • Do not rub or massage the surface of the person’s body or extremities;
    • and Use or exhibit signals to indicate distress and need of assistance if necessary.
  4. While wearing personal flotation devices or life jackets, some positions can help persons to survive longer when immersed in cold water:
    • If alone, adopt a “fetal position” by crossing arms tightly against the chest and by drawing the knees up close to the chest (heat escape lessening position);
    • If alone, climb onto a nearby floating object to get as much of the body out of/or above the water
    • If in a group, “huddle” with other persons by getting the sides of everyone’s chest close together with arms around mid to lower back and legs intertwined.
    Rescue 1
    Rescue 2
    Rescue 3
  5. The following may provide additional protection to a person’s body from hypothermia:
    • dry suit
    • wet suit
    • immersion suit
    • survival suit
    • exposure coverall
    • multiple light layers of dry clothing,
    • water or wind proof outer layer


Know the following technique to test personal flotation devices and/or life jackets

  • while wearing the personal flotation device and/or life jacket,
  • in chest-deep water,
  • the person shall bend the knees,
  • then float on the back, and
  • shall make sure that the personal flotation device and/or life jacket keeps the chin above water so that it is easy to breathe.
Back to Top