June 29, 2006
Media Release

Impairment and boating carries more risks than ever before

 
According to the National Boating Fatalities Report (2003), 38 per cent of recreational boating fatalities in Canada are alcohol-related
 
NEWMARKET – What’s more relaxing on a hot summer day than boating on a cool, calm lake, the soft breeze in your face and the warm mist hitting your arms.  It is the perfect setting to reach for an ice cold beer…or is it?  Many people think it is okay to drink alcohol while operating a boat or watercraft, but it’s not. Drinking and boating is just as illegal as drinking and driving a motor vehicle.  Bill 209, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Drinking and Boating Offences), 2006 is now law in Ontario. This legislation allows police to suspend the driver’s licence of anyone operating a boat while impaired.
 
Mixing alcohol and boating also carries health risks. Boater fatigue is a combination of sun, wind, noise, vibration and boat motion that can triple the effects of alcohol on boaters. Sun exposure and alcohol consumption increases how fast a body becomes dehydrated.  Even if a person is mildly dehydrated, alcohol will be absorbed more quickly into the body and produce a higher blood alcohol concentration than that of a hydrated person.
 
Drinking alcohol while boating can also:
• Negatively affect your judgement, balance, coordination and peripheral vision
• Slow your response time
• Reduce your depth perception, focus and night vision
• Disturb your inner ear, which can make it impossible for you to tell the difference between up or down if you are suddenly immersed in water
• Increase your risk of hypothermia, if you are immersed in water
• Negatively affect your psychomotor skills and reduce your ability to hold your breath underwater
 
Be safer on the water by following these tips:
• Boat sober and always wear a life jacket
• Make sure your boat is equipped with all required safety gear
• Never allow a person under the influence of alcohol to operate your boat. You are responsible for the safety of your passengers and crew
• If you plan to take friends water-skiing, serve them alcohol only after the activity is finished and you are back on shore
• Make non-alcoholic drinks and food available
 
For more information on safer boating or any other health-related questions, contact York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or www.york.ca
 
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, York Region Health Services
 Phone:  (905) 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Pager (905) 830-3302
 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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