Mandatory Boat Safety Requirements in Canada

When you go boating, your first priority is to check that you have all the proper safety equipment on board. This is crucial for ensuring the well-being of you and your fellow passengers. It’s also required by law.

Mandatory safety equipment for small pleasure crafts


According to the Canadian Small Vessels Regulations and the International Regulations for preventing collisions, it is a mandate that every boat has functional safety equipment on board. The boat size is a defining factor in choosing the right ones before going out on the water.


Potentially meaning the difference between life and death, all such equipment must be:

  • Totally operational
  • Well-maintained according to instructions set forth by the manufacturer

For a motorized pleasure craft of six metres and under, the following safety equipment is needed:

  • An approved and correctly sized personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket for every passenger
  • A manual propelling device such as a paddle or an anchor that reaches down at least 15 metres
  • A bailer or bilge pump for removing water from the hull
  • A sound-signalling device such as a pealess whistle, a compressed gas horn or an electric horn
  • A waterproof flashlight or three type A, B or C flares
  • A 15-metre buoyant heaving line (a floating rope with a soft buoyant object on one end)
  • Navigation lights if you’re boating between sunset and sunrise or in reduced visibility conditions

Your boat also requires a class 5BC fire extinguisher if it’s equipped with any of the following: an inboard motor, fixed fuel tank or fuel-burning cooking, heating or refrigeration units.

All of this equipment has to be in good working order and has to be easy to access by all passengers. Note that you’re responsible for having all mandatory safety equipment on board, even when you’re only renting or borrowing the boat.


Mandatory safety equipment for larger pleasure crafts

If your pleasure craft is larger than six metres, there are additional safety requirements that need to be met. For example, crafts of 12 metres or longer require an axe and two fire buckets. A detailed list of these is mentioned below:

  • Six type A, B, or C flares
  • A magnetic compass
  • A radar reflector
  • A 5BC fire extinguisher (for boats between 9 m to 12 m) or a 10BC fire extinguisher (for larger boats). This is when the boat has a motor or is equipped with a cooking, burning or refrigerating appliance.
  • One anchor with about 15 m of cable, rope or chain (for boats between 9 m to 12 m) or an anchor with about 30 m of cable, rope or chain (for larger boats).
  • A lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line that is 15 m long or more
  • A reboarding device that is only necessary if the vertical height to be climbed from the water is over 0.5 m from the water.
  • The presence of a fire pump in the machinery space that is motor-operated. This should be coupled with a fire hose and a nozzle that would allow water to reach every part of the vessel.

Consult Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide to get more information.


Additional safety equipment
There are other safety items that aren’t mandatory but that are wise to have on board. If you’re heading out on the water for an extended period of time, take along the following things:

  • A working cell phone or marine radio
  • A first aid kit
  • A tool kit that includes spare parts such as fuses and spark plugs
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Spare clothing or ponchos in a waterproof bag
  • Towels
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat

Whether you have a small pleasure craft or a full-sized freighter, Pacific Coast Fire Equipment has the specialized insurance, certification, equipment and expertise to handle all your marine fire safety needs in Victoria, British Columbia. We’re an industry leader in fire protection services, including installation, inspection and maintenance of fire prevention equipment and fire suppression systems. Contact us today to find out more!


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