Kids having fun jumping into the water off the back of a boat. - Image: Contributed

How to stay safe on the water this long weekend

Boating BC says boating is great fun but to stay safe there are some cardinal rules

By Lisa Geddes

Across the province, British Columbians are gearing up for the B.C. Day long weekend, which for many of us includes getting out on the water with family and friends. With our province boasting 27,000 km of coastline alone, not to mention countless lakes and rivers, there’s no shortage of locations across B.C. to get on the water. Boaters can expect to see an increase in traffic on the water over the long weekend, so it’s important to keep in mind how to stay safe:

• Wear your lifejacket. Legally you must carry a Canadian approved PFD on board, appropriately sized for each passenger. But don’t just carry it, WEAR IT.

• Don’t drink and boat. Boating under the influence is not just illegal; it’s irresponsible. Wait until you get back to the pier or drop anchor at the end of the day before you enjoy that cold beer or glass of wine.

• Take a boating course. The law now requires that anyone driving a motorized boat must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. In fact, for your own safety and that of your passengers, we recommend you take additional boating courses.

• Be prepared. Ensure your boat has all the required safety gear and sufficient fuel. Be sure the weather is suitable for your vessel’s capabilities, and that you have sail or float plan that you’ve shared with someone before departure.

• Beware of cold water risks. Even in the summer, cold water is a significant risk.

• Get informed on invasive species. Aquatic invasive species can be spread on your hull, in the bilge and on the boat trailer. Clean, drain and dry out your boat, trailer and equipment when relocating. It is against the law in B.C. to transport invasive species – for more information visit www.bcinvasives.ca.

We believe that B.C. is better on a boat and we wish all our fellow boaters across the B.C. an enjoyable, safe and environmentally friendly B.C. Day Long Weekend.

Lisa Geddes is the executive director of Boating B.C., the voice of recreational boating in B.C., that is comprised of 320 member companies that represent all aspects of the boating industry.