Water safety always in season

Surrounded by the Salish Sea on three sides, Oak Bay has boaters aplenty. With the first long weekend of the summer upon us, even the fair-weather boaters tend to set sail.

Naturally, boat and water safety comes to mind. A gentle reminder of the dangers of the open water can only do good.

According to the BC Coroners Service , boating incidents are the number-one cause of drowning deaths in the province – 22.5 per cent between the years 2008-2015; it increases to a full 25 per cent when rafting and tubing are added to the mix – two more popular Vancouver Island pastimes.

Island-wide we have our share drowning tragedies each year, some of which could have been prevented with adherence to the golden rule of the water: always wear a life-jacket or personal flotation device.

Yes, there is a difference. Life-jackets offer a higher level of protection. PFDs are designed to keep a person afloat but not to turn an unconscious person face up in the water. Make sure to choose one that suits the type of boating activities you’re planning.

(For more information on lifejackets/PFDs, go visit the Canadian Red Cross website.)

And if life-jackets/PFDs are the golden rule, leaving alcohol and drugs out of the equation comes a close second.

More than 40 per cent of all drowning deaths in BC between 2008-2015 involved alcohol or drugs.

This isn’t altogether surprising and again, it must be said.

It’s not acceptable – socially, or legally – to consume alcohol while driving down the highway; why, then, do so many think it’s acceptable behaviour to have a beer in one hand while steering a boat with the other?

Statistically speaking, it’s inevitable that there will a tragedy on the water at some time this year.

Please, pay heed to these words. If they save one life, they were worth writing.