With hoards of tourists and locals alike taking to water activities on Cowichan Lake, it’s important to keep safety in the back of one’s mind.
That’s the message visiting Burnaby water safety advocates Christine Schroeder and Mandy Arbuckle had to impart during a tour of Cowichan Lake, Saturday, July 9.
“Our mandate is to get people boating safely,” Arbuckle said, before setting out on a day-long trip around Cowichan Lake to pass on pearls of wisdom to boaters enjoying the late onset of summer weather.
There are some basic guidelines that people should abide by while boating around Cowichan Lake.
“They’re pretty basic – pretty simple – but they’re not always remembered,” Arbuckle said.
Have the proper safety equipment on board.
Though they’re very important, it’s not just about lifejackets, Arbuckle said. Each boat type has specific minimum safety equipment requirements attached to it, including the likes of signaling devices, bilge-pumps, and a myriad of other items.
For those with invincibility complexes, carrying proper safety equipment also ensures one is able to avoid fines.
“People like saving money,” Arbuckle said. “We’re the guys that come up before the police.”
Carry proper documentation. This may not necessarily be a safety precaution, but it can save boaters some serious fines. Vessel registration, a pleasure craft operator card, and photo identification are all a must in avoiding fines of up to $200.
“People are missing the registration documents, and it’s free with Transport Canada,” Arbuckle said, of the easily avoided fine.
One misconception is that people can drink alcohol on boats, Schroeder said.
“The drinking and boating laws are really important,” she said. “It’s just the same as driving a car. You can get a DUI on your driver’s licence.”
The only exception is with things like house boats.
But, even then, one can only crack open a drink after they’re done boating for the day.
A full guide outlining the province’s boat safety guidelines is available on the internet, at www.bchighway.com/regulations/Safe_Boating_Guide.pdf.
Arbuckle and Schroeder toured Cowichan Lake as part of a tour of local area lakes with the Burnaby-based Royal Lifesaving Society Water Wise program.