Column: No reason to not have life-jackets on board

Great Outdoors by James Murray

Every year in this province far too many people drown while taking part in activities on the water.

None of them intended to drown. Most were simply out on the water enjoying a pleasant day – until something went wrong, desperately wrong.

The worst part is that most of the people who drown, more than 87 per cent of them, either were not wearing a lifejacket or PFD, or did not have one on board. With an ever increasing number of people taking part in activities on and around the water, there is an increased need for safety and regulation.

Under the federal government’s regulations, a person operating a boat or pleasure craft is responsible for equipping the boat with the proper mandatory safety equipment to ensure the safety of those on board. Operators and/or owners of boats and pleasure craft that do not comply with these regulations can be subject to penalties and fines of up to $200 for each person not wearing an approved lifejacket.

The bottom line when it comes to life-jackets or PFD’s is that they save lives.

Read more: Life-jacket Day a chance to reflect on boating safety

There are a number of things to consider when choosing a flotation device. First of all, consider the type of water activities t you enjoy. Today there are life-jackets and PFD’s specially designed for virtually every water activity including pleasure boating, fishing, water skiing, tubing, kayaking, canoeing and rafting. Today’s life-jackets and PFD’s are available in a variety of bright colours.

When determining what size of lifejacket or PFD to wear, remember that sizing is based on chest measurements for adults and weight for children. Read the label for details. And, most important, try the lifejacket or PFD on before buying. It should fit snugly, with all the buckles, zippers and snaps done up, but still allow room to breathe and move around freely.

Whether boating, kayaking, angling or floating down river on a float tube, it is important to remember that different people have differing levels of skill and physical strength, not to mention swimming ability.

Wearing a life-jacket or PFD can make all the difference in a life-threatening situation. Please stay safe.

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