North American Safe Boating Awareness Week is kicking off May 19 across Canada.
The initiative, which runs until May 25, promotes safe and responsible boating practices to the estimated 15 million recreational boaters in Canada.
The timing of the week is aligned with the unofficial start of summer — the May long weekend — a time when many boating fatalities occur.
While boating-related fatalities have trended downward over the years, more than 100 deaths occur annually in Canadian waters.
There are five key boating safety messages to be delivered, all directed toward the most common boating-related accidents:
- Wear a lifejacket
- Boat sober
- Take a boating course
- Be prepared — both you and your vessel
- Be aware of the risks of cold water immersion
Boating safety advocacy groups, enforcement agencies and first responders have seen additional issues created by the impending legalization of cannabis along with the rise in prescription narcotic use. While alcohol has been shown to be a contributing factor in 40 per cent of boating fatalities in Canada, there are concerns recreational cannabis has the potential to increase this statistic. In response, media conferences are planned by police to discuss and emphasize the importance of not consuming alcohol or drugs before or while boating.