Culture & Entertainment

Wear a lifejacket—it could save your life

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Wear a lifejacket—it could save your life

National Lifejacket Day It’s National Lifejacket Day today! With the long weekend upon us, it’s the perfect day to remind ourselves about the importance of water safety. Recent stats from the Canadian Red Cross are disturbing: More than 160 water-related fatalities happen every year while boating, and nearly 90 percent of boaters who drown are not wearing a lifejacket. When summer hits, boat safety should be top of mind for anyone who likes to be out on the water. Rick Caissie, director general, prevention and safety, with the Canadian Red Cross, says that almost 60 percent of water-related fatalities occur during the summer during recreational activities. “While the long weekend is a time to open cottages, pools, and enjoy time with family and friends on the water, it’s important to take the proper precautions to avoid incidents,” he says. Unsafe behaviours continue to put Canadians at risk. Alcohol is suspected in more than 50 percent of boating fatalities. Drowning incidents are also on the rise, in situations where lifejackets are available on the boat, but not worn by boaters. “Lifejackets, like seatbelts, need to be worn to save lives,” says Caissie. Follow these lifejacket and personal flotation device (PFD) tips for a safer summer: 1. Actually wear your lifejacket or PFD. When you’re in a boat, having your lifejacket or PFD close by isn’t close enough. It needs to be on and done up properly. 2. Choose a lifejacket or PFD designed for your recreational activity. There are PFDs designed for different activities such as pleasure boating, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, and fishing. When you’ve selected the appropriate PFD, buy it in the brightest colour you can find—the Canadian Coast Guard recommends bright colours for better visibility. 3. Make sure it fits. A lifejacket or PFD should have a snug fit when all buckles or zippers are done up. You should be able to move and breathe freely while wearing it. If you can pull it up to your ears, it’s too big. 4. Your kids need lifejackets and PFDs designed for kids. Children’s lifejackets and PFDS often have a large collar to support a child’s head, a grab strap on the collar and a safety strap between the legs so that the device can’t slip off. It’s important to note that, in Canada, if your child is under 20 pounds, there are no approved flotation devices. Transport Canada recommends waiting until your child can wear an approved floatation device before taking them out on the water. 5. You need to take care of your lifejackets and PFDs. Never use them for a seat cushion, or a fender for your boat. Replace them immediately if you notice any tears, and keep them in a dry and ventilated area, away from gasoline. For more information on water safety, visit the Canadian Red Cross. Want to get your kids in the water this summer? Visit Canadian Living’s Getting your kids in the swim. Photo courtesy of Flickr/CC State Farm
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Wear a lifejacket—it could save your life

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