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VIDEO: RCMP emphasizing caution during Safe Boating Awareness Week

With warm weather on the horizon, that means it’s almost time to transport the boat out of storage and into one of the numerous lakes in the Okanagan Valley.

If you’re lucky enough to own a watercraft in Kelowna, Okanagan Lake is the prime spot to rip around in the summer, spanning 135 km from north Vernon to the south of Penticton.

Although while spending your time cruising the open waters, safety should always remain a top priority; and what better way to remind the general public than Safe Boating Awareness Week from May 21-27.

While RCMP will respond to calls throughout the year on the lake, May through September is when you can spot them patrolling the water to ensure everyone is abiding by the laws.

“Just like your mom, it's all safety, safety, safety and so for us we’re looking for violations like not having life preservers or people operating vessels while impaired, overcapacity, vessels that are poorly maintained or don’t have other safety gear,” Sgt. Duncan Dixon, West Kelowna RCMP.

“Basically just looking to make sure everyone is safe and can enjoy the water without being injured.”

Depending on the severity under the Canada Shipping Act - Small Vessel Regulation, officers will hand out tickets, but in general, tickets being distributed mainly relate to minor offences.

“We’re giving out regulations saying, ‘Hey you’re missing this, let’s get you back to shore safely’ or ‘This is a very minor item so let’s fix that next time’, so generally speaking it’s an educational standpoint ” explained Dixon.

“Occasionally, somebody that’s really violated something; we’re after them for having multiple things wrong or something that’s very dangerous.”

</who>Photo credit: 123rf

Important things to keep in mind before hitting the water:

  • Ensure there’s a properly sized life jacket for each passenger onboard
  • Don’t boat impaired, ensure someone who is in charge of operating the vessel has not taken drugs or alcohol
  • Be prepared: Make sure you have enough fuel for your trip
  • Carry a boaters license and Pleasure Craft Operator Card
  • Ensure that you have all legally required safety equipment on board.
  • Look before you act, and ensure that you have the legally required lights after dark or during conditions of reduced visibility.

According to Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide, close to 100 people die and many more get seriously injured every year in boating incidents.

They indicate that most boating deaths and injuries can be avoided when following the rules and regulations that apply to boating.

Whether you’re operating the boat or along for the ride this summer, it’s important to stay out of harm’s way by staying alert.

Dixon added: “Be safe out there. Enjoy the lake but let's make sure we do it safely”

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