With the Labour Day long weekend fast approaching, many Manitobans will be heading out on the water to soak in every last second of the summer.
However, it’s important to stay safe while out on the water as these activities can pose dangers, including drownings and boating accidents.
For those spending time on a boat over the Labour Day weekend, the most important thing to remember is to wear a life jacket.
“It’s required by law that you have to have one on the boat for yourself, but we really, really stress [to] wear it, because once something bad happens it’s going to be too late to put it on,” said Christopher Love with the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba.
Love also suggests having your boat prepared. This means checking the boat ahead of time, ensuring it has safety equipment, putting in the drain plug, and making sure you have your pleasure craft operator card.
He said it’s also important to be aware of conditions before you head out.
“Check the weather. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend, but we got rain here in Winnipeg this morning, so who knows what’s going to happen throughout the weekend,” he said.
Love also emphasized the importance of boating sober.
He added that alcohol is the main intoxicant that is used while boating.
“Unfortunately, it’s a factor in about 30 to 40 per cent of all of our drowning fatalities here in the province of Manitoba,” he said.
Another source of possible danger is the use of inflatables in open water.
Love recommends keeping these inflatables in your backyard pool, as in open water they can be blown far from the shore, which can pose risks if a person falls off or the device deflates.
“We’ve already had cases this summer where emergency services had to go out and pick people up that had been blown really, really far away from shore… they catch any breeze whatsoever,” he said.
For those who do take these inflatables to the beach, the best thing to do is tie them down and wear a life jacket.
As for those taking kids out on the water this weekend, Love said an adult needs to be watching at all times.
“There needs to be an adult at all times who is the parent lifeguard or water watcher and their job is just to watch the kids,” he said.
“They’re not doing anything else. They’re not looking at their phone, they’re not preparing food, they’re not doing anything except watching the kids.”
For kids aged six and younger, an adult needs to be within arm’s reach.
– With files from CTV’s Katherine Dow.
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