Families and boat enthusiasts can take a few simple steps this summer to improve their experience on the water and increase boat safety.
“The first thing you need to do is make sure you have your operators license, (your) pleasure craft license,” said Leduc RCMP Cst. Jason Farrell.
In order to ensure safety the operators must also inspect the craft to make sure everything is in good working order.
“There needs to be one lifejacket on the boat for each passenger. Those under 16 have to have one on at all times,” said Farrell.
Paying attention to weather updates is also important and Farrell implores those going out on the water to have some sort of communication device on board, either a phone or radio.
There should also be a person on board who knows where the boat is going and the area, in case an emergency arises. Let others not going on the watercraft know where you will be and how long you expect to be gone.
Farrell says the biggest factor leading to watercraft emergencies is alcohol, followed by weather and inexperience. “People have to make sure they don’t go to fast, obey the speed limits on water.”
Within 100 metres from shore watercraft must be kept at 5 km/h or lower because the shallow water is where swimmers and those floating will congregate. Farrell says personal watercraft such as sea-doos are generally the main offenders of this offence.
As they do every summer, RCMP members will be on the lookout for those not following proper safety protocols. “We’re going to be on the water conducting inspections.”
There are tickets and fines for non-compliance.
Leduc RCMP detachment patrols Wizard Lake and the Wetaskiwin detachment takes on Pigeon Lake.
In an event of an emergency Farrell says the first step is to call 911 as soon as possible. Use flares, smoke or other emergency equipment to alert others of your location.
“The number one concern is to preserve life. In the case of an emergency everyone gets their life jackets on,” said Farrell.
To help avoid water emergencies stay alert to your surroundings and of others as well. “People need to be considerate of other users of the waterways.”