Safe Boating Practices

Aug 4, 2021

According to the Life Saving Society’s 2014 Drowning Report between 2007 and 2011, 836 drownings occurred in Ontario, 23% of which were related to boating incidences.

With the hot weather upon us many of you will be heading up to your cottage to enjoy the heat and the beautiful lakes of Eastern Ontario. There’s no better way to cool off and enjoy the sunshine than heading out onto the lake in your boat.

Before you do there are some safe boating practices you should consider to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable time out on the water!

Boating License (PCOC)

Anyone who operates a power-driven boat requires a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC). This card shows proof of competency for the safety in operating a boat and understanding the basic rules. Once you obtain your PCOC it is good for life. Transport Canada provides a list of accredited course providers.

Boating Safety Equipment

Life Jacket - Boating Safety

At a minimum Canadian Law requires you to have:

  • Canadian-approved flotation device or lifejacket of appropriate size for each passenger on board. Hundreds of deaths happen each year due to drowning which can be avoided.
  • Buoyant heaving line at least 15 metres in length
  • Watertight flashlight OR Canadian approved flares – Type A,B or C
  • Sound-signaling device
  • Manual propelling device (i.e. paddle) OR an anchor with at least 15 metres of rope, chain or cable
  • Bailer OR manual water pump
  • Class 5 BC fire extinguisher


You should also consider carrying the following items:

  • First aid kid
  • Drinking water
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat & sunglasses
  • Dry clothes
  • Snacks – fruit and nut bars
  • Knife
  • Waterproof matches


The Canadian Cross provides a great pre-departure checklist you can reference.


Weather Wise

You should always check the weather conditions before heading out onto the water. Plan ahead! Even though it looks like a nice day, unexpected weather patterns can occur, especially out on the water. Thunderstorms can form unexpectedly in the hot summer months so keep an eye on the sky. The more prepared you are the safer your trip will be. The Weather Network and Environment Canada are great resources to check the weather and water conditions in your area.

Trip Plan

Before you leave make sure to have a planned route on where you are going. Even if you’re going for an hour or two, having a plan ensures the passengers safety. File this plan with someone you trust because it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Boy Jumping Off Boat

Know Your Waterway

A body of water isn’t like a road, there are no marked lanes, or straight paths. Before you go out on the water ensure you know the waterway you will be travelling. If you don’t, ensure someone on the boat does. Nautical maps and publications can help you understand routes, lights, buoys, marks, hazards and boating conditions.

Don’t Drink and Boat

37% of boaters in Canada admit to consuming alcohol every time they boat and alcohol is a factor in over 40% of recreational boating fatalities. If you would never get into a car after drinking you should never drive a boat under the influence either. The same laws apply whether you’re in a car or on the water. Be responsible to ensure the safety of you and your passengers!


We understand the importance of enjoying life while keeping you and your family safe. Despite safety precautions accidents happen and we want to ensure you’re ready when they do. Contact us today to find the appropriate insurance solution for your boat this summer!