A Guide for Boat Safety in Canada [2023]

Famille qui profite de son bateau sur l’eau pendant l’été

Updated May 2023

Getting out on the water and having some fun in the boat is a time-honoured recreational activity for many Canadian families. However, it’s easy to forget that as a motorized vehicle, it comes with risks.

There’s a lot of preparation that should be done before you hit the water, and if you’re unfamiliar, then let this article be your starting guide for how you can have a safe boating experience this summer.

Boat Safety Tips – Before Getting on Board

Get a Pleasure Craft Operator Card

A Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC), also known as a boating licence, is required by law in Canada. This card acts as proof that you understand the basic rules and how to safely operate a boat.

You can get this card by taking a boater safety course in-person or online and passing the test at the end of the course. Transport Canada provides its list of approved accredited course providers for various locations across Canada.

Get Boat Insurance

Just like with any motorized vehicle, we recommend purchasing insurance to help provide added protection for not only your boat, but for its occupants as well.

How Do I Know Which Coverage is Right for Me?

We explore this topic in our What To Know Before Purchasing Boat Insurance article, but essentially it comes down to speaking with an insurance agent to see what coverage is right for you. Insuring your boat could rely on a variety of different factors that may influence how much you’ll spend as well as what coverage you’ll have available for your boat.

What If I’m Only Renting?

While you may have some coverage under your base policy for liability coverage, you are not covered for physical damage of the boat. We recommend speaking with the company you plan to rent from, as they may offer boat insurance coverage for the rental.

Pack Essentials

Safety Equipment

If you’re renting a boat, it may already come equipped with safety equipment. If that’s the case, be sure to check with the owner to ensure that the equipment required is in good working order.

If you plan on purchasing a boat, and don’t know where to start, the Canadian Red Cross has developed a list of safety items to include, such as:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Sound-signalling devices
  • A paddle
  • Flares or navigation lights
  • Personal floatation device

Essential Items

The Canadian Red Cross also provides additional items to consider packing before heading out on the water. These include:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Drinking water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Dry clothing
  • Food

Familiarize Yourself With Water Safety Rules

Even if you don’t plan on diving in the water, we still recommend familiarizing yourself with water safety rules to prevent boating accidents.

Unfortunately, we learned that in 2019 there were over 450 drowning-related deaths in Canada. We spoke with Raynald Hawkins, General Manager of the Lifesaving Society Quebec Branch, to better understand what we all can do to help prevent drowning and water-related injuries.

Check Weather Conditions

Be sure to monitor the weather ahead of your boating trip. Weather conditions can change suddenly, so it’s important that you plan accordingly.

Boat Safety Tips – While on Board

Wear Your Lifejacket

It goes without saying that wearing a floatation device helps to save lives. Ensure that you and everyone else on the boat is wearing their lifejackets.

Don’t Venture Out Onto Unfamiliar Waters

Regardless of your boating skills, we don’t recommend venturing out onto unfamiliar waters. The tides and currents can change in an instant and if you’re not prepared (or a strong enough boater) this may cause issues for you and the people on board.

Don’t Drink and Drive

This rule not only applies on the road but on the water too. On the water, the combination of sun, wind, the rocking movements of a boat exacerbate the effects of alcohol, weed, or any other substance.

Furthermore, there are laws against drinking on a boat across the country. From a legal standpoint, if you are caught impaired and are convicted, you may lose your licence – regardless of whether you are driving a car or a boat.

For additional boating safety tips, visit the Canadian Safe Boating Council website at http://www.csbc.ca/en/

Disclaimer: This information and the websites referenced are provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice. Allstate does not control or guarantee the accuracy of any content on any third-party site.  Allstate is not responsible for the privacy practices of any third-party site.