Boaters are encouraged to mark the May long weekend with a commitment to wearing a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) every time they go out on the water.
Thursday, May 19 is National Lifejacket Day, an annual campaign promoting the use of life-jackets and PFDs among boaters and water recreationists. It’s also when Shuswap residents and visitors are thinking about getting out on the water for the first time this season.
According to the Canadian Red Cross, 87 per cent of victims in boating-related fatalities either were not wearing a lifejacket, or had one but didn’t have it properly secured. Also, alcohol was a factor in 41 per cent of boating-related fatalities.
To the Shuswap Watershed Council, these statistics offer compelling evidence for the effectiveness of life-jackets, and the importance of having a sober captain.
“We sometimes think an accident won’t happen to us,” says Erin Vieira, program manager for the Shuswap Watershed Council. “But accidents do happen. And when they do, your lifejacket buys you time to be rescued.”
There are 18 lifejacket loaner kiosks around the Shuswap, each equipped with various sizes of children’s life-jackets that can be borrowed for free on a first-come, first-served honour system.
A 19th kiosk will be built later this spring. The life-jackets are provided by the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue (RCMSAR) Station 106 Shuswap, based in Sicamous, and sponsored by a variety of community organizations. A map of the lifejacket loaner kiosks is available on the Shuswap Watershed Council website, www.shuswapwater.ca.
“Children should wear a lifejacket whenever they are around water, and they need to get used to wearing it,” advises Rob Sutherland, the Station Leader for RCMSAR 106 Shuswap. “We are happy to supply life-jackets in three sizes for children at our kiosks, which will be stocked and ready for borrowing by the May long weekend.”
The Shuswap Watershed Council reminds boat captains that it’s your responsibility to make sure everyone on board has a properly fitted flotation device.
Submitted by the Shuswap Watershed Council
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