Boating is a water hobby that can be fun for a group of friends or the whole family, but it’s important to keep in mind that boating accidents do happen – and more often than you think.
With nearly 30% of Canadian boating fatalities occurring in Ontario, boat safety is of major concern.
Causes of boating accidents
There are a variety of factors that can cause a boating accident, some of which are not always under the control of the boat operators or its passengers. However, majority of boating accidents are caused by operator negligence.
The dominant factor, which is also the easiest to avoid, is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 65% of the boating-related accidents in Canada involve alcohol consumption as a factor. Intoxicated drivers have slower reflexes and often make poor decisions that can have devastating results. Boating under the influence (BUI) is a criminal offense under the Criminal Code of Canada and carries heavy fines and/or imprisonment with it.
In addition, a great number of boating accidents are caused by harsh weather conditions, such as strong winds or heavy rain, particularly when a storm hits suddenly. Boats are also at higher risk of lightning strikes, which can injure or kill passengers or damage the boat. In addition, exposure to cold water or rain for long periods of time can lead passengers to experience hypothermia.
4 simple life-saving tips
Here are 4 simple steps that you can do to decrease the likelihood of being involved in an accident:
- Step one: take a course in boating safely. Being educated in safety and making sure that all passengers on the boat understand basic safety precautions can help keep everyone calm in case of emergency.
- Step two: be aware of weather conditions and alerts to avoid being caught in adverse weather and never operate a boat under the influence.
- Step three: if you are inexperienced, go out with an experienced boater a few times before venturing off on your own. Inexperienced boaters are at a higher risk of an accident occurring, especially in stormy conditions.
- Step four: If there's one thing that boaters can do to increase their safety, it's to always wear a life jacket. The leading cause of marine deaths is failure to wear a personal flotation device. According to the Canadian Safe Boating Council, in 2014, there were 20 boating deaths in Ontario and of those deaths 17 weren’t wearing a life jacket.
Understanding how boating accidents happen and how to avoid them will help make your boating experience safer and more enjoyable. Being prepared and knowing how to operate your boat safely will ensure you will enjoy this hobby.
What To Do if You Have Been in a Boating Accident
If you have been involved in a boating accident, you need to report it to the authorities immediately. You are obliged to contact the local Canadian Coast Guard rescue coordination centre or the police as soon as you can after the accident and provide clear details about what happened. You are also required to inform the Transport Safety Board of Canada about the incident.
Boating accidents are governed by marine law, which means you need a lawyer that understands the complexities of this law. If you have been injured in an accident that involves recreation watercrafts, contact us for a free consultation.