Manitoba Mounties issued a warning to citizens on Wednesday as boating season begins.

As Safe Boating Awareness takes place this week (May 18 - 24), the RCMP published a release reminding everyone of the importance of safety and preparedness before heading out onto the water.

"As many people take their boats out of winter storage, it is important to ensure they are in proper working order. Boats should be mechanically sound, including all the required safety equipment. Anyone operating a boat with a motor in Canada must possess a Pleasure Craft Operators Card," continued the RCMP release. "Criminal Code Impaired driving laws involving motor vehicles apply equally to operating a boat. Significant skill is required to safely operate a boat, and the consumption of alcohol or drugs severely impacts your ability to do so. Many fatalities that occur on Canadian waterways involve people who are impaired."

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The Canadian Safe Boating Council provided some safety tips:

  • Wear a life jacket: Always wear a Canadian-approved personal flotation device/life jacket while on the water.
  • Always boat sober: Whether it's prescription drugs, alcohol, or cannabis, intoxication and boating do not mix.
  • Be prepared – both you and your vessel: Ensure your boat has all the required safety gear and sufficient fuel. Always check the weather before heading out.
  • Take a boating course: Boaters are required by law to possess a Pleasure Craft Operator Card in order to operate a motorized boat.
  • Be cold water safe: Cold water can severely impact your ability to swim and stay afloat. No matter your swimming ability, the best chance of surviving an accidental cold-water immersion is to wear your life jacket.

"Having all the safety equipment required in your vessel is so important," said Sergeant David Portelance, Marine Advisor for the Manitoba RCMP. "It is also important to know exactly where it is so when an emergency occurs, you can access it quickly. We want everyone to have a safe boating season."