Enough is Enough

The May 24th weekend is now behind us, which means most Atlantic Canadian recreational boaters have already either been on the water or are preparing for their first cruise or sail of the year.

After months of winter doldrums, this is literally the most exciting time of the year. But enthusiasm should never overshadow safety.

Transport Canada’s Boating Safety Contribution Program recently released a very eye-opening report entitled Recreational Boating-Related Fatalities in Canada, 2008–2017. The report, which was prepared by the Drowning Prevention Research Centre Canada (DPRC), concluded that while boating-related fatalities are preventable, they continue to account for a substantial portion of water-related deaths in Canada each year. The Atlantic Region sees an average of 12 recreational boating-related fatalities every year.

During the 10-year period studied, there were 956 recreational boating-related fatalities in Canada — an average of almost 100 deaths per year.

The study found that while recreational boating-related death rates decreased from 2008 to 2017, they continued to account for a substantial proportion (21 per cent) of all water-related deaths in Canada.

While most parents always seem vigilant to ensure their children are wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs) when boating, deaths primarily occurred among adults. In fact, nine out of 10 recreational boating-related fatalities occurred among adult males.

The report also outlined that lakes, not the ocean, were the most frequent type of body of water where deaths occurred and that most recreational boating-related deaths occurred during powerboat use. Canoes were the next most common type of watercraft used prior to a fatality.

Not surprisingly, recreational boating-related fatalities most frequently occurred in the warmer months (May through August) and on weekends, the most common month for fatalities was July and the most frequent day was Saturday.

And if these findings were not staggering enough, the vast majority of these deaths were absolutely and tragically preventable.

Poor weather conditions, including rough water and high winds, were frequent causes contributing to boating-related deaths and more than one-third of individuals who were fatally injured in a recreational boating-related incident had consumed alcohol.

And of course, the majority of individuals, about 80 per cent, who died as the result of a recreational boating-related incident were not wearing a PFD at the time of the incident.

But why do such preventable tragedies continue to occur each year? Every boater out there is aware of the simple rules and practices necessary to make an enjoyable day on the water a safe one as well. So please, for your own sake and that of your families and loved ones, please boat smartly and safely this year.

You don’t want your next excursion to end up as a DPRC statistic. Enough is enough boaters.



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