Promoting safe boating practices

The Portage Citizen —

This week is North American Safe Boating Awareness Week with precautionary celebrations events happening across Canada including May 17 in Winnipeg and hopefully in your own watercraft, too.

North American Safe Boating Awareness Week will take place across Canada from May 19-25. The purpose of this initiative managed by the CSBC (Canadian Safe Boating Council) and the Lifesaving Society – Manitoba Branch is to promote safe and responsible boating practices to the estimated 15 million recreational boaters in Canada.

Although boating-related fatalities have trended downwards in past years, there continues to be an average of over 100 boating-related deaths annually in Canadian waters. “Manitoba has one of the highest boating fatality rates in the country,” said Lifesaving Society – Mb Branch Acting CEO Kevin Tordiffe. “This province has some of the best parks and beaches in the country. I’m encouraging all Manitobans to get out and enjoy these attractions safely.”

The goal of the week is to ensure Canadians who head out in any type of boat have the appropriate knowledge to help them have a safe day on the water.

The timing of the week, starting on the May long weekend is perfectly aligned with the unofficial start of summer and a time when many boating fatalities occur.

There are five key boating safety behaviours to be delivered, all directed towards the most common boating-related accidents. They include: Wear a lifejacket; boat sober, Take a Boating Course, Be Prepared – Both You and Your Vessel and Be Aware of the Risks of Cold Water Immersion

The impending legalization of cannabis along with the rise in prescription narcotic use is causing significant additional concern for boating safety advocate groups, enforcement agencies and first responders alike.  Alcohol alone has long been proven to be a contributing factor in 40% of boating fatalities across Canada.  The legalization of recreational cannabis has the potential to significantly increase this statistic.

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