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Boat Safety: What To Do When the Weather Turns South

A big part of boat safety is knowing what to do in case of an emergency.A big part of boat safety is knowing what to do in case of an emergency.

While the Okanagan is known for endless sunny days in summer, the weather has been known to change without warning. Severe thunderstorms with strong winds, rain, lightning, fog, and even hail can wreak havoc onshore and especially when out paddling, boating, or jet skiing on Okanagan Lake.  Prepare for any kind of weather and know what to do in case of an emergency with these boat safety tips.

 

Before You Board

Before you head out on the water, it’s important to first check the weather report. Bring a map or GPS. Have a plan and tell somewhere where you are going, Fuel up before leaving shore.

Make sure your boat is equipped with all the needed safety gear. Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide suggests that you have the following items* onboard all personal watercraft:

  • Properly fitting lifejackets or PDFs for every person on board
  • A lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line (the line should be at least 15 metres long)
  • Anchor
  • Emergency ladder
  • Bailer or bilge pump
  • Sound signalling device
  • Magnetic compass
  • Navigation lights
  • Radar reflector
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Marine radio or cellular phone
  • Personal locator beacon
  • First-aid kit
  • Blankets/towels
  • Water

* Please note that most safety equipment is provided when renting a boat in Kelowna from Downtown Marina.

 

What to Do in an Emergency

When unpredictable weather hits, follow these steps:

  1. Get everyone on board the boat to put on his or her lifejacket. 

  2. Place canvas or cover on boat and batten hatches.

  3. Slow down and proceed cautiously. 

  4. Direct the boat’s bow against waves at a slight angle.

  5. Seek shelter. Know where the closest emergency mooring area is located, For example, if you are boating north of Kelowna within the District of Lake Country, you can use the courtesy dock at Okanagan Centre Safe Harbour,

  6. Never leave your boat rental unattended unless you have no other choice.

  7. Call 911 if you are stranded or needing emergency assistance. If you have a marine radio, use VHF radio channel 16 to report a mayday for an urgent emergency or pan-pan if you do not need immediate assistance (such as your motor cutting out). If you’ve rented a boat, It’s also important to contact us at Downtown Marina in Kelowna so that we can take the appropriate steps.

 

What To Do If Someone Falls Overboard

Unexpected weather, sudden waves, and other issues can cause boat or jetski passengers to fall overboard. If this happens, do not go in the water after them. Instead, make sure to:

  • Slow your boat down immediately
  • Keep an eye out for whoever has fallen overboard
  • Carefully pull up close to the victim and turn off the engine
  • Throw out the heaving line with a flotation ring for the victim to hold onto
  • Pull passenger in and put out a ladder, lifeline or swim platform for them to board
  • Attend to any first aid if necessary or call 911 if they are unconscious
  • Keep them warm and hydrated

Read on how to safely moor your boat with our Kelowna Boat Rental Tips: Moorage 101.

 

As a fully-serviced watercraft rental, boat tour, fuel marina, and boat slip service station, Downtown Marina has everything you need to ensure a safe and fun day on the water. All of our personal watercraft, including boat and Seadoo rentals, come equipped with lifejackets and other safety equipment, while our attendants will instruct you on all safety procedures and precautions. Contact us for more information and enjoy life on the lake.