Wearing some kind of lifejacket can save your life when you’re boating. (submitted)

Wearing some kind of lifejacket can save your life when you’re boating. (submitted)

Column: Lifejackets and lucky fishing hats

In about 80 per cent of boating-related fatalities, victims weren’t wearing their lifejackets.

July 1-9 marks National Fishing Week in Canada and the Canadian Safe Boating Council wants everyone to get out their lifejackets along with their lucky fishing hats.

On designated days within this period, thousands of Canadians will take advantage of their ability to legally fish without a licence. While this opportunity has been a catalyst for many of us to catch the fishing bug, angling has been part of our Canadian heritage for countless generations.

So popular has this activity become that well over 50 per cent of the boats sold in Canada are used at least in part for fishing. By far, the most popular boats for this activity are small open powerboats under six metres in length. Coincidentally, between 2009 and 2013, boats of this type were involved in 26 per cent of the boating-related fatalities according to the Lifesaving Society’s 2016 Drowning Report.

Contrary to popular opinion, simply having a lifejacket aboard the boat alone isn’t necessarily going to be enough to prevent a catastrophic outcome. In approximately 80 per cent of boating-related fatalities, victims weren’t wearing their lifejackets. Often times, a wave or wake from another boat can not only knock a boater into the water but also carry their boat away leaving them in the middle of a lake without any flotation and they drown.

In this day and age, there really isn’t any excuse not to wear a lifejacket. Manufacturers have designed purpose-built units that not only provide comfort and allow ease of casting but also have pockets and clips to keep tackle, tools and other necessities at arm’s reach.

Inflatable lifejackets, too, provide a great option for anglers. They are cool, comfortable, allow for full arm motion and are completely adjustable. They can be deployed either manually or automatically and come in both vest and fanny pack models. The only conditions associated with inflatable lifejacket wear are that they must be worn to be legal and aren’t legal when the wearer is engaged in an activity where they could be knocked unconscious. Also, the wearer must be 16 years of age or older.

No matter what type or style of lifejacket an angler chooses, they should be treated like their lucky fishing hat in that they only work when they’re worn. The Canadian Safe Boating Council understands that we’ve gotten our families hooked on fishing. We just want to get everyone hooked on lifejackets as well.