Boating Safety

National Drowning Prevention Week 

National Drowning Prevention Week – July 16-23, 2011

Know the major risk factors for drowning while boating

This week marks National Drowning Prevention Week in Canada. Promoted by the Lifesaving Society this week provides an opportunity to become better aware of the risk factors for drowning and work to avoid these risks. Summer is the time of year when most water fatalities occur—so there’s no better time to think about when, where and how accidents occur.

Every year, an average of 140 Canadians drown while boating. While that number has decreased in recent years thanks to various factors, including boating safety education, there is still a lot of work to do. Powerboating and fishing are the #2 and #3 activities associated with drowning (following swimming). The vast majority of these fatalities can be easily prevented.

The Lifesaving Society has identified the following major risk factors for drowning deaths involving boating.

  • Not wearing a lifejacket – 80% of victims were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Cold water – 44% of the time, cold water was a factor.
  • Capsizing – In 40% of cases, the boat capsized
  • Alcohol – In 39% of cases, alcohol was involved.
  • Boating alone – In 30% of cases, the victim was boating alone.
  • Falling Overboard – 25% of the time the victim fell overboard.

(From the 2011 National Drowning Report)

What measures can be taken to prevent a fatal accident while boating? Here are the Lifesaving Society’s top 5 prevention tips for boating and fishing:

  1. Always wear a lifejacket
  2. Never drink and boat
  3. Get the Card (Pleasure Craft Operator Card or proof of competency)
  4. Check the forecast and make a checklist
  5. Wear the right gear

(Read the top 10 here)

With 80% of drowning victims not wearing a lifejacket and almost 40% of accidents involving alcohol, tips #1 and #2 are obvious. But why is getting the Pleasure Craft Operator Card #3? According to the Lifesaving Society, taking an approved safety course “will help you to know the boating “rules of the road,” how to respond in a boating emergency, and how to operate pleasure craft safely.” Getting the Card means being prepared.

With over 2 million Canadians certified,® is Canada’s leading issuer of the Pleasure Craft Operator Card. For more information about boating in Canada, or to acquire your Pleasure Craft Operator Card, visit or call 1-866-688-2628.