Boat Safety Tips for Nova Scotians
With its breathtaking coastlines and pristine lakes, Nova Scotia is a haven for boating enthusiasts. Recreational boating is a cherished pastime for many residents of the province and seasonal visitors.
Unfortunately, boating can also be dangerous. According to the Canadian Red Cross, approximately 525 Canadians die in water-related incidents each year. Those who survive even moderately severe boating accidents often sustain physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial hardships as they try coping with the impacts of their injuries.
Even the most experienced, skilled, and safety-conscious boat operator could be injured or wrongfully killed in a boating accident. However, by taking safety precautions even before setting sail, boaters could dramatically reduce their risk of injury.
Know Before You Go
Everyone who operates a motorized boat in Canadian waters needs to prove their competency and skills. Those who wish to drive a boat should obtain a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) and keep it with them while operating their vessels.
It is also important to familiarize oneself with the local boating rules and regulations specific to the region, including speed limits, navigation markers, restricted areas, and any other guidelines that ensure safe navigation. Understanding and adhering to these regulations can help protect the safety of everyone enjoying a leisurely ride on local waters.
It is often said that safe boating begins on the dock. In fact, it is important to take safety precautions even before leaving for the marina.
Before leaving the house to set sail, it is always important to check the weather forecast. Weather conditions can change rapidly, and being caught in rough waters can be dangerous. Strong winds, thunderstorms, or dense fog can greatly impact the safety of boaters and their passengers. If adverse weather is predicted, it is likely wise to postpone any scheduled boating expeditions.
There are more safety precautions that can be taken on dry land. It is important to maintain proper boating equipment, and to ensure the boat is equipped with all the necessary safety gear. This includes:
- Functional navigation lights
- Air horn or whistle
- Fire extinguishers
- First aid kit
- Throwable floatation device
- And possibly more
Boat owners are encouraged to regularly inspect their equipment to ensure it is in good working condition. Equipment should also be stored in an easy-to-reach location onboard so that it can be accessed quickly if needed.
A basic knowledge of first aid can be invaluable in the event of an emergency. Those who intend on spending time on the water should consider taking a first aid and CPR course to learn how to address injuries that can be sustained in a boating accident.
Being prepared can make a significant difference in the outcome of an unforeseen situation. For that reason, boat operators are encouraged to create a float plan. A float plan is a written document outlining a boating itinerary which can be shared with a reliable third party before setting sail. The float plan should include a description of the boat, the names of passengers, the expedition’s intended route and destination, and estimated time of return. If you fail to return as scheduled, the person in possession of the float plan can notify authorities. Doing so in a timely fashion could help enable a prompt rescue in case any unforeseen events transpire on the water.
Lifejackets Save Lives
A lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) is the best defense against accidental drowning as the result of accidents or emergencies on the water. According to the Canadian Red Cross, simply wearing PFDs could eliminate 90% of boating-related fatalities nationwide.
Despite the fact that 82% of Canadians believe wearing a lifejacket while riding on a boat is the law, only 50% of boat owners across the country admit to wearing a PFD on their vessels. Nearly a quarter of all fatal boating accidents occur when at least one lifejacket is onboard but unworn at the time of the incident.
It is now required by law that appropriately sized lifejackets or PFDs for all passengers on the vessel to be present on board. Certain lifejackets and PFDs are designed specifically for children, with the appropriate size determined based on the child’s weight.
Lifejackets should be worn or be within reach at all times. They must also be approved by Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Lifejackets that are ripped, worn, repaired or altered are not approved for use.
When Boating Accidents Cause Injuries
Navigating Nova Scotia waters requires careful attention. It is important to operate a motorized vessel at speed that is safe and appropriate for the water conditions, and keep a vigilant lookout for other boats, swimmers, and hazards. Observing right-of-way rules – especially in congested areas near docks and marinas – can also help reduce the risk of injury-causing boat accidents.
Unfortunately, even the most responsible boat operator faces a number of risk factors. The negligence of another boat operator could turn a recreational leisure activity into a deadly nightmare.
Intoxicated boat riders pose a particular danger to swimmers and the occupants of other vessels. Alcohol consumption is a factor in almost half of all fatal boating accidents. Consuming even a small amount of alcohol can lower response times, impair judgment, and impede motor skills. Dehydration from the heat and sun can cause a boater’s body to absorb alcohol more quickly into their system, increasing and quickening its effects.
The scenic waters surrounding our province attract countless boating enthusiasts each year, providing unforgettable experiences and cherished memories. However, amidst the serenity lies the potential for accidents caused by the negligence of other boaters. Boat accidents in Nova Scotia can result in devastating injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Anoxic and hypoxic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Soft tissue injuries (including whiplash)
- And more
Because of the wrongful actions of an inebriated, inexperienced, reckless, or otherwise negligent boat operator, the survivors of a Nova Scotia boat accident could be forced to grapple with adverse repercussions for the rest of their lives. The consequences of a boat accident are often physical, psychological, and economic, with many accident victims struggling to keep up with costs stemming from their injuries.
If you were injured on the water, do not hesitate to schedule a free initial consultation with our Nova Scotia boating accident lawyers. By working with Preszler Injury Lawyers, you could recover compensation for your injuries. To learn more, call our boating accident lawyers serving Nova Scotia today.
Book Your Free Initial Consultation
Our Nova Scotia boating accident lawyers offer all prospective clients a free initial consultation. If you were involved in an accident and are unsure about options for financial compensation that might be available to you, contact us today.