Aug 27, 2020

Just Ask JohnBy John Gullick

Is it mandatory that people wear their Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) or lifejackets while on board their vessels and underway?

This is a question that I am asked regularly and to date the answer has been NO, excepting of those who use inflatable lifejackets. They must be worn when on board and underway. However, inherently buoyant lifejackets need only be kept close at hand. There must be an approved lifejacket on board for every person, it must be of an appropriate size and you need to be able to reach it, not have it stored on a locker somewhere.

If you click on the following link: https://lifejacketsforlife.com/transport-canada-issues-house-of-commons-petition-response/ you will see that Transport Canada has tabled a petition to Minister Garneau and the House of Commons that the small Vessel Regulations be amended to make it mandatory the all children under the age of 14 be required to wear a Personal Flotation Devise (PFD) or lifejacket in small vessels covered under the regulations.

There are many who believe that PFD or lifejacket wear be mandatory for all, not just children under the age of 14, and the statistics clearly support that belief. About 85% of those involved in fatal recreational boating related deaths were not wearing PFDs or lifejackets and in many cases they were not even present on the vessel.

FYI, in Canada there is a difference between a PFD and a lifejacket. Lifejackets must be red, yellow or orange in colour, have fluorescent strips and a whistle attached and have a specified level of flotation depending on the size of the wearer. They should be able to turn a person face up if they are unconscious in the water. PFDs on the other hand can be of any colour, can be inherently buoyant or inflatable and have a certain level of floatation which is specified but less than a lifejacket. Inflatable PFDs cannot be used by people under the age of 16 and those involved in white water paddle sports.

Should this request for a regulatory change regarding the required wear of PFDs or lifejackets come into effect I believe that it will be a step in the right direction to significantly improve recreational boating safety.

John GullickMeet John Gullick

John is currently Manager of Government and Special Programmes, Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons responsible for government relations and the management of two national programmes mandated by Transport Canada, Office of Boating Safety and Industry Canada, special projects and staff supervision.

John writes “Just Ask John for the CPS’ Port Hole. This article and others are “Second Time Around”

His many achievements in the boating field include:

• Past Chair Canadian Safe Boating Council, 1999 –

• Co Chairman, Recreational Boating Advisory Committee to the National Canadian Marine Advisory Council, 2007 -

• Management of the Pleasure Craft Operator Card and the Restricted Operator Certificate (Maritime) programmes provided through 150 Squadrons, 400 independent Recognized Providers/Examiners and a number of Provincial Partner Organizations.

• Past Chair of the Peterborough Dragon Boat Festival. Considered to be one of the world’s largest single day community event of its kind now in its 20th year.

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