Recent research prompts Red Cross to urge lifejacket use for all boaters

TORONTO, May 19 /CNW/ - A recently published Canadian Red Cross study examining 16 years of drowning research shows boating accounted for an almost 3,000 injury deaths in Canada.  The study also identified a number of contributing factors and as we approach the first long weekend of summer, the Red Cross is bringing this information to the forefront to save lives.

With the long weekend and warmer weather right around the corner, many Ontario residents will be enjoying water activities such as fishing, power boating or canoeing.  "May 19 is National Lifejacket Day and we want to take this opportunity to remind boaters to wear a lifejacket when out on the water to ensure that every trip is a return trip all summer long," says Lorraine Davies, Red Cross provincial director of injury prevention.

One key factor identified by the report was that only 12 per cent of immersion fatalities were reported to be correctly wearing a lifejacket or PFD. Of all recreational boating immersion deaths during this period, 93 per cent were male. Men between 15 and 54 years old accounted for the majority of fatalities. Alcohol was a factor for nearly half of these, and environmental conditions such as the weather, wind and waves were also significant contributing factors.

"Very few boaters expect to end up in the water, yet the majority of boating-related fatalities result from a capsized boat or a fall overboard," says Davies. "In these incidences, wearing a lifejacket could mean the difference between life and death."

Before heading out, ensure that all persons on board - even strong swimmers - are outfitted with a correctly sized lifejacket appropriate to the activity. In addition, boaters should be aware of and monitor the weather and water conditions, be prepared to head to the nearest point of safety if the conditions change, never consume alcohol before or during a boating outing, and ensure boaters know how to safely operate and load the vessel.

"So many boaters make the fatal mistake of having a lifejacket with them in the boat, but not wearing it - assuming they will be able to put it on when something goes wrong," says Davies. "This is like trying to fasten your seatbelt as your car crashes - there won't be time."

The Canadian Red Cross is a national leader in injury prevention and drowning research, studying the annual data as well as the long-term trends. To view the report: Boating - 16 years of research. For more safety tips or for information on Canadian Red Cross training programs, visit www.redcross.ca/swim.

SOURCE Canadian Red Cross

For further information:

Media contact:
Karen Snider
416-518-2844


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