NEWS

Police urge boaters to be safe on the water

05/18/2013 07:19 EDT | Updated 07/18/2013 05:12 EDT
Safety officials are encouraging boaters to be cautious on the water, as Safe Boating week kicked off on Saturday.

Sgt. Norm Webster, with the Vancouver Police Department's Marine Unit says the number one thing police are concerned about with boaters is alcohol.

"Drinking while you're boating or operating a vessel is a criminal code offence, just like driving a vehicle when you're under the influence of alcohol. Same rules apply," said Webster.

Every year, about 200 people are killed in boating accidents in Canada and another 6,000 are injured.

Police say on waterways, even a simple mistake can turn life-threatening.

"There's so much that can happen on the water. There's weather, there's tides. Things can happen and if it starts to get dark its harder to find people," said Michael Cupit of Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue.

Police say they will be cracking down on speeders and aggressive drivers this weekend, even using helicopters as part of a project called "nowhere to hide".

Vancouver boater Derry Major says he hopes fellow boaters heed the warnings, especially those less experienced.

"All of those basic things are fine when you're doing a test, but until you put it into practical application, you've got a sailboat underway, who's got right of way, is it starboard, that's my biggest concern," said Major.

With the closure of the Kitsilano coast guard station, Major says it's even more important to be aware of the risks on the water.

- Vancouver coast guard station officially closes

At the event in Vancouver's Vanier Park on Saturday, around 30 people participated in a world-wide attempt to set a record for simultaneously inflating their life jackets.

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