Red Cross report says many Canadians still aren’t wearing life jackets or PFDs


This article was originally published in the May 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

In time for National Life Jacket Day (May 19), the Canadian Red Cross is releasing The Flotation Report, based on 20 years of research into drowning fatalities and lifejacket use. The bad news: many Canadian boaters still aren’t wearing their life­ jackets or PFDs.

At least our boating safety behaviour hasn’t gotten worse. The stats have stayed “virtually unchanged” between 1991 and 2010, says Clara Reinhardt, the organization’s drowning research coordinator. One increase? Drowning incidents in which lifejackets were available, but not worn, rose from 19 percent (between 1991 and 2000) to 24 percent (between 2001 and 2010). Males, meanwhile, still account for almost 90 per cent of boating deaths. Smarten up, guys.

More facts from the report:

  • Almost 90% of all boaters who drown are not wearing, or properly wearing, a lifejacket.
  • On average, there are 166 boating-­related deaths per year.
  • 82% of boat owners believe that wearing a lifejacket is a legal requirement, but fewer than 50% of them actually wear one.