Boating Safety

3 children on a boat wearing lifejackets 

Q. Are drowning deaths involving watercraft common?

A. Yes. On average, 32 people drown every year while taking part in watercraft activities.

Q. How do watercraft drowning deaths occur?

A. Drowning deaths while boating can occur when people are not wearing lifejackets, when they drink alcohol and fall in, when they are unprepared to cope with weather conditions, when watercraft collide, and when a water craft is not seaworthy. Lifejackets are a vital piece of safety equipment. Better design and technology has led to a range of lifejacket styles that look good, are easy to wear and don’t get in the way of your favourite activity on the water. In fact, there’s a style of jacket for just about every activity and body shape, including convenient inflatable models.

Not wearing a lifejacket can have serious consequences. Sadly, most people  who drowned while boating were not wearing a lifejacket. It is strongly recommended that you always wear one.

Q. Who is responsible for the people on a boat?

A. The captain has overall responsibility for the safety of their passengers, and must ensure there are sufficient lifejackets for all onboard. However, it is the responsibility of each individual to ensure their safety by wearing a lifejacket, avoiding alcohol, not skylarking, and complying with the captain's requests.

Q. Does alcohol play a role?

A. Alcohol is a contributing factor in 20% of all adult drowning deaths. Alcohol is often involved in watercraft related deaths.

Boating Checklist

  • It is strongly recommended that you always wear a lifejacket
  • Keep your weight centred when entering and leaving a small boat
  • Stow all gear safely
  • Follow the boating traffic rules
  • Avoid swimming areas, weirs, rocks and other crafts
  • Monitor weather reports
  • Look out for warning signs of bad weather
  • Let people know your destination and when you expect to return

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