With summer just around the corner, a Lifesaving Society team is touring local elementary schools to press home water-safety awareness.
The WaterWise boat safety team is out to encourage all boaters, young and old, to behave safely, but they’re focused on grades 3 to 6 on this tour, said Kim McKinnon.
“I think we’re targeting young audiences to spread the message as well,” McKinnon said. “They want to do the right thing, and they want to tell other people to do the right thing.”
A lot of people take to the water, thinking that an accident will never happen to them, she noted.
More people are enjoying boating, but they’re not making safe choices.
“One of our main messages is not to drink and boat. That’s a huge issue nowadays.” Consumption of alcohol is involved in more than one-third of boating fatalities.
Their safety message is timely considering the number of water-related accidents and fatalities in the region in recent weeks.
Last weekend, a missing drain plug was blamed for a powerboat sinking off Pioneer Park. Everyone managed to swim to shore safely. They didn’t have time to put on lifejackets.
The law requires only that boats be equipped with personal flotation devices for each person aboard — they don’t necessarily have to wear them — but having PFDs available is no consolation in a split-second accident. Eighty-five per cent of drowning victims are found not wearing them.
The WaterWise team is in town until Thursday.