Flotation devices for all is safety tip No. 1

It’s not the law that you have to be wearing a personal flotation device (lifejacket) while boating, but Mark Winfield, a Coxswain with Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue in Mill Bay, certainly recommends it.

The RCM Pacific Region, which has about 40 stations covering the area between Victoria and Haida Gwaii, responded to about 800 calls last year for assistance.

They went on 52 missions last month, and that number is expected to climb in the months to come.

"The number just goes up in the summer," Winfield explained.

Their calls range from dealing with boats breaking down to boats on fire or sinking, someone overboard, people going missing and boats taking on water.

Unexpected things can happen out on the water, and that’s why, Winfield said, it’s important to

take safety seriously.

The RCM offers free boat safety checks, and did a handful just last weekend at Cherry Point.

What’s number one on the boating safety list? "Make sure that everyone has a PFD on board," Winfield said. "Having a PFD and wearing it, and it should be made the appropriate size, so you don’t give a child an adult’s one."

Boaters must also have a fire extinguisher and flares. There are laws governing that, depending on the size of the boat.

In hot weather, Winfield said it’s important to make sure you’re carrying enough fresh water, and to make sure you’ve got enough fuel for your trip. "Tell someone where you’re going," he added.

If you get into trouble dial *16 on your cell phone, or use your VHF.

There’s a lot more information people can review before heading out, Winfield said, and people can access it at http://rcmsar.com

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