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Safe Boating Week sets sail
It doesn’t officially begin until Saturday, but North Okanagan conservation officers got a head start alerting area boaters to National Safe Boating Week.
Out doing patrols last weekend, officers noticed a great deal of boaters weren’t prepared after bringing their vessels out of winter storage.
“Some flashlights weren’t working, some life jackets were in poor repair or had been eaten by mice, and some boats didn’t have licences,” said Sgt. Josh Lockwood, NCO conservation operations supervisor for North Okanagan.
“Some of the boats purchased over the winter weren’t registered, or boats purchased from other people weren’t reregistered in their name. Those things have been in place for a long time now, and the RCMP, conservation services and DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) are going to start to take a dim view of people who don’t have their licence.”
The licence is the number that goes on the boat. Any boater caught not having the number on the vessel faces a $288 fine.
Lockwood said boaters should treat their vessels like a motor vehicle. If you’re driving a boat, you need a licence, or, as it’s properly termed, a competency operators certificate.
You need said certificate to drive a boat.
“Even if you’re only in possession of the steering mechanism, you need a certificate,” said Lockwood.
Another part of the focus of Safe Boating Week is ensuring infants and youth are wearing life jackets in a boat.
“So many times last year we’d see adults or parents holding small children that was very apparent to us that they were not able to swim – I’m talking age two and under – not wearing any type of life preserver at all,” said Lockwood.
Officers on patrol will be carrying small life jackets for youth that have been purchased through public donations, and will be handing them out to people who need them as long as they meet qualifying criteria.
Lockwood said officers will be patrolling small and large lakes in the North Okanagan during Safe Boating Week.
BOATsmart!, Canada’s leader in boating safety and the country’s largest Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) provider, offers five simple tips for safe boating this summer:
1. Get your BOATsmart! Operator Card. All operators of motorized vessels require a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. Test your knowledge, learn boating safety skills and take the official Transport Canada Accredited exam at www.BoatSmartExam.com.
2. Wear a life-jacket. It’s simple. Wearing a life-jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) greatly reduces your risk of drowning. Having them on board is not enough. Life-jackets don’t work unless you wear them. So be sure that everyone on board is wearing an approved PFD before heading out on the water.
3. Don’t drink and boat. The effects of alcohol are up to four times greater on the water due of the motion of your craft, the wind, waves and hot summer sun. Keep hydrated by drinking water, and keep the alcohol on shore.
4. Be prepared. Make sure your boat, safety equipment and passengers are prepared for a safe day on the water. Check your local weather before heading out and leave extra gas in the tank for a safe trip home.
5. Refresh your knowledge. Both novice and experienced boaters can benefit from taking a BOATsmart! course. From emergency preparedness to right-of-way rules, you’ll learn everything you need to boat with confidence.