The May Long Weekend is here and with it the unofficial start to summer and boating season. That has several organizations reminding Manitobans of safety tips as more new boaters take to the water every summer.

The Canadian Safe Boating Council, Lifesaving Society Manitoba, and their partners set sail with their annual Safe Boating Awareness Week, advocating for safe and responsible boating practices across Canada.

“Boating is enjoyed by many Manitobans every summer," says Stacey Grocholski, Executive Director of the Lifesaving Society Manitoba. "We want to ensure that every trip is a round trip, with boaters and their passengers coming home safely. Manitoba exceeds the average, and not in a good way, when it comes to boating injuries and fatalities.”

Over 16 million Canadians taking to the waterways for recreational enjoyment according to the Lifesaving Society. "The pandemic turbocharged this passion," a release from the organization says "with a surge in new boaters—some estimating increases as high as 40 per cent. However, along with the influx of enthusiasts came a rise in boating incidents, signalling a need for heightened safety awareness."

To steer boaters toward safety, there is a need to underscore five pivotal boating safety messages:

1. Wear Your lifejacket

2. Boat Sober

3. Be prepared, You and Your Vessel

4. Take a Boating Course

5. Be Cold Water Safe

These cardinal rules aim to mitigate common boating-related incidents and ensure a safe journey on the water.

"Safe boating is not just a week-long focus - it is a year-round commitment," says Mike Dean, Chair, Canadian Safe Boating Council. "Whether it is a leisurely cruise or a thrilling adventure, always wear your lifejacket and ensure everyone on board does too."

MADD Canada president, Tanya Hansen, reminds Canadians that sobriety needs to be practiced while on the water. "When people think about driving impaired, they think about a car on the road. But operating a boat while impaired is just as dangerous and illegal."

You can find more on safe boating tips here