WINNIPEG — As Manitobans head out to lake country this long weekend (with only their immediate household, of course), the Canadian Safe Boating Council is kicking off an initiative to promote boater safety.
North American Safe Boating Awareness Week will take place across Canada from May 22-28, encouraging safe and responsible boating practices.
According to the CSBC, 16 million people enjoy recreational boating in Canada, with that number rising by between 20-40 percent since COVID-19.
“We know here in Manitoba both Lake Winnipeg and the Whiteshell are going to be very busy with boating activity this spring and summer. But we want to make sure if you’re going out onto the water, you’re going to have a safe time, and that every trip will be a round trip,” said Dr. Christopher Love, water smart coordinator with the Lifesaving Society Manitoba.
There are five key boating safety messages directed towards the most common boating-related accidents, including:
- Wear a lifejacket
- Boat sober.
- Be prepared. Both you and your boat.
- Take a boating course
- Be aware of cold water risks.
MADD Canada is driving home the message even further to not drive a boat, car or ATV while impaired — not just this weekend, but year-round.
“We all look forward to the Victoria Day holiday, and even though pandemic-related restrictions are in place in most areas, there is likely to be more people out on the roads, waterways and trails this weekend,” said MADD Canada national president Jaymie-Lyne Hancock. “Let’s all do our part to keep one another safe by never operating any vehicle while impaired.”
The Victoria Day weekend marks the official start of MADD Canada’s Campaign 911 program, which asks the public to call 911 to report a suspected impaired driver.
Throughout the country, MADD Canada has installed 1,300 Report Impaired Boaters – Call 911 signs at harbours, marinas and boat launches in the past few years, with additional signage to be placed this spring and summer.