While social distancing and restrictions on travel, gatherings, and daily life remain in place, boating has become a popular recreation for Canadians.

This week, the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBS) is reminding people to be safe when out on the water.

About 16 million people enjoy recreational boating in Canada, and the pastime is only getting more popular, with the CSBS estimating double-digit percentage increases this year due to COVID-19.

"In Manitoba we’re known for our 100,000 lakes and inland Ocean. So we want people to go out and experience our wonderful waterways safely," says Manitoba RCMP Staff Sgt. Bob Chabot.

The CSBS reports that marine dealers across North America are seeing empty shelves of boating safety gear and more boat sales as more people take to the water.

Boating safety information remains critical to both new and experienced boaters in Canada. CSBS says five key boating safety messages can help address the most common boating-related accidents.

  1. Wear a lifejacket
  2. Boat sober.
  3. Be prepared. Both you and your boat.
  4. Take a boating course
  5. Be aware of cold water risks

"We know here in Manitoba both Lake Winnipeg and the Whiteshell are going to be very busy with boating activity this spring and summer," says Lifesaving Society Manitoba water smart coordinator Dr. Christopher Love.

"But we want to make sure if you’re going out onto the water, you’re going to have a safe time, and that every trip will be a round trip."

Sharon Chung, a boating safety officer with Transport Canada, emphasizes the importance of wearing a lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD).

Safe Boating Awareness week runs from May 22 to 28, 2021 to promote safe and responsible boating practices.