Safe Waters: Boating Best Practices

DF SafetyPersonal Safety Guide

Every year, approximately 525 Canadians lose their lives while having fun on the water. Simple actions such as wearing an appropriate floatation device, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, and taking time to carefully plan out your trip can significantly reduce the risk of catastrophic injuries or death. Boating is a pleasurable experience, and prioritizing safety will ensure it stays that way. Today, let’s cover some of the ways in which you can be a responsible boat owner and operator this summer.   

Proof of boating competency 

As outlined by the Government of Alberta, boaters must have proof of competency. This is achieved by passing a boating safety test taken at the end of a boating safety course. You can view this list of accredited course providers online, or call the Boating Safety Infoline at 1-800-267-6687 to request the list mailed to you. Courses are available both online and in the classroom, allowing you to choose an option that works best for you. 

A variety of documents may serve as proof of competency

Plan ahead 

Safe boating is being prepared when heading out for an enjoyable outing on the water. It is smart to check the weather forecast to anticipate any inclement weather headed your way during your time on the water. You can also check current conditions using rivers.alberta.ca which provides valuable information about river height and low rate. 

It is also key to have essential items on your boat. These should include the following: 

  • Life jackets 
  • Proof of competency  
  • Throwable floatation items 
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Nighttime distress signals 
  • First aid kit 
  • Flashlights 
  • Tool kit 
  • Provisions needed for the day 

Wear life jackets  

Life jackets or personal floatation devices can provide extra security for everyone on board. If you are participating in activities such as boating, kayaking, water skiing, or any water fun, you need to wear a life jacket. By law, you are required to have a life jacket on board for each person on a watercraft. Drowning related to recreational boating occurs when people do not wear life jackets.  

Drive sober 

Never operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol as it can impact your judgment as well as reaction time. It can also have dangerous consequences, or expensive fines!  

DF Safety offers an online Boating Awareness course, which helps to ensure the safety of you and your passengers in addition to others out on the water.  

By the end of this course, you should be able to: 

  • Understand what you need to know about your boat  
  • Describe what safety materials and procedures are needed  
  • Know the responsibility of every boater 
  • Identify hazards associated with fueling, operating, and navigating 
  • Identify risks and understand what to do in case of an emergency  

Spending a beautiful summer day on the water is a fantastic way to spend your time and create lasting memories with family and friends. To ensure everyone makes it home safely, be a responsible boat owner and comply with the expectations and laws that are in place.