Boat Safety And Maritime Law
Every boater should carry the right fire extinguishers and other safety equipment on board for boat safety. Fire extinguishers are an excellent way to extinguish any fire that begins in a moving watercraft. Life jackets provide extra protection for those on board during emergencies and harsh weather. Each of these items is required on most boats for safe boating. Most boats will have a sticker on the boat stating that they meet the minimum standards for boat safety.
An overboard fire extinguisher should be carried on board at all times. Boats with an overboard fire extinguisher are considered “underwater” and their extinguishers are automatically installed in the boat’s engine. Life jackets should be used as a precautionary measure if someone has to be removed from an overcrowded boat. The standard size is for a person, but some jackets are adjustable to fit overweight persons or people with back problems.
Boats with multiple seating capacity should have additional personal flotation aids such as Life Vests. These flotation devices are made of flexible material and can be easily strapped around a person’s chest for added support. If a person is swimming, a buoyancy aid is also essential in helping to bring them back to shore. The boat safety equipment required by law includes an approved fire extinguisher and a fire extinguisher or two for the boat’s emergency kit. A P.O.R.T. system is also recommended for boats that travel in coastal areas where there is risk of electrical problems.
Life jackets are another basic piece of boat safety equipment. Life jackets should be worn by all passengers when water skiing or sailing. Even if a life jacket prevents the death of a person, it may not stop other people on the water from being injured and become unconscious.
It should be obvious that other sections of boat safety law require some variation on what life jackets are required to carry on a vessel. For instance, a motorboat, sailboat or powerboat must carry at least one life vest for each passenger. Passengers who do not wear life jackets may become subject to drowning. Boats that carry alcohol or other beverages are prohibited from taking passengers who do not wear life jackets on board. Some other items that are prohibited on a boat are fireworks, fire starters, gas cylinders and other dangerous liquids. It is also illegal to use a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
A boat safety check should include inspecting the boat interior for any visible damage that would prevent passengers from wearing life jackets. It is also a good idea to take a boat out for a test run without using the vessel for propulsion. All passengers should get off and sit in the boat at the same time to make sure everyone is comfortable. Any physical discomfort should be reported to the pilot so that immediate action can be taken.
For larger boats, it is usually recommended that a combination of personal flotation devices and a floating aid such as a paver board be carried on board. The most convenient choice will depend upon how long the trip will last and how many passengers there are on board. Personal flotation devices can be made portable by placing them inside of a plastic bag, as are pontoons, or inside a larger travel case. The pontoons are made available in a variety of sizes so that they can accommodate small children, pregnant women and those with back problems. A float board can also be used if desired but is not recommended for larger vessels.
Some boaters feel that they should provide their own safety equipment. If so, they should at least carry a piece of rope or a first aid kit including aspirin and pain relievers. They should also not leave their life jackets inside the boat unless emergency conditions dictate that they do so. When traveling out at sea, Canadian-approved flotation devices are available to add extra protection for anyone wishing to wear a life jacket.