What You Need to Know About Water Safety in the Okanagan
Let’s face it, almost every summer day in the Okanagan is the perfect day to go boating or paddling. Watersports are super fun activities! However, there are safety measures that must be taken to prevent accidents and injury.
Learn about water safety in the Okanagan; whether you are boating, paddling, swimming, wakeboarding, or water tubing, use these emergency preparedness tips to enjoy a fabulous and safe day on Lake Okanagan.
Make Sure You Have The Correct Safety Equipment
According to Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide, it is imperative that all boaters bring along certain safety equipment. For example, all boat rentals, including SUP, kayak, and paddleboat rentals in Kelowna, should bring one lifejacket or PFD for each person on board. For extra insurance, everyone should wear their life jackets at all times while on the water.
Other water safety equipment to bring aboard should include:
- A reboarding device
- Buoyant heaving line of at least 15 metres
- A bailer or manual bilge pump
- A manual propelling device such as a paddle
- Sound signaling device (whistle)
- Magnetic compass
- A watertight flashlight if you are operating your boat, SUP, or kayak at night
Powerboat safety equipment should also include:
- Navigation lights
- Radar reflector
- Anchor, cable, rope, or chain
- Fire extinguisher
- GPS/radio/communication device
Share Your Plan
Always inform someone on the shore of where you plan to go boating or paddling. If renting a boat from Downtown Marina, please let our attendants know where you plan to travel boating. Make sure you have a communication device in case of an emergency. Also, don’t forget to ensure you have enough boat fuel to get to and from your destination, so you are not left stranded.
Stay Close To Shore
Besides wearing a lifejacket, remain safe while boating or paddling aboard a SUP or kayak rental by staying a safe distance from the shore whenever possible. If an emergency ensues, you will have easier access to land and recovery services. Also, take note of any safe harbours on Okanagan Lake in case of bad weather. Those boating south of Kelowna can retreat to the Central Okanagan Safe Harbour, which features a courtesy dock open to all boaters.
Bring Along A Buddy
Boating is better and safer when you have other people on board your boat for the ride. When you cruise in the company of other vessels, keep at a safe distance and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Have someone join you in the water if stopping for a swim, and use your passengers as lookouts when someone is wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake surfing, or water tubing behind a boat. Those renting SUPs, kayaks, and paddleboards in Kelowna are recommended not to go out alone if leaving the beach and swimming areas.
Do Not Drink And Drive
Like driving a car, operating a boat while impaired is a violation of the law and is extremely dangerous; boating while under the influence of alcohol or narcotics is one of the leading causes of accidents. Avoiding excessive consumption applies to passengers too; impairment can lead to anyone on board being injured or falling overboard.
Know What To Do in An Emergency
An emergency on the water can have devastating effects. Before you go out on the water, you can know what to do in an emergency by taking a water safety or first aid course. Be better prepared by bringing blankets, water, food, and sun protection to protect against hypothermia or heat exhaustion. Learn ahead of time what to do if someone falls overboard (cutting the engine, using a buoy line, recovery after they have swallowed water, etc.), and know your emergency numbers and have them at the ready should you need them.
For more information, read How to Enjoy the Heat in Kelowna
Kelowna’s Downtown Marina has everything you need for boating fun and a safe day on the water. All our boat rentals in the Okanagan come with the appropriate safety equipment, and our attendants are well versed in all safety measures. Contact us for more information.