Many British Columbians will be spending this long weekend out on the water…and many of them will be drinking.
The provincial government, Community Against Preventable Injuries and BC Liquor Distribution Branches are launching an awareness campaign in a bid to change attitudes around alcohol and boats.
“For some reason, boaters don’t apply the same rules to boating that they due to driving despite the fact that both activities require a huge amount of responsibility and education to be done successfully,” says LDB spokesperson Viola Kaminski. “It comes down to attitudes that people have towards boating and that’s why a key aspect of this campaign is to shift public attitudes and educated the public. Drinking and boating is illegal, extremely dangerous, just as dangerous as if you were to get in your car and drive drunk.”
Those caught on the water with alcohol face hefty fines and even imprisonment. In fact, you’re not even supposed to have booze in any boat that doesn’t have living quarters aboard.
Nearly half of water activity related deaths in BC are alcohol related.
Drink for drink, you become impaired more quickly on the water than on land due to stress factors like motion, sun and wind, temperature and glare.
But it’s not just boat operators at increased risk when impaired on the water.
“It even comes down to passengers as well because when passengers are intoxicated they can easily fall off the boat,” says Kaminski. “Alcohol increases the chance that they lose their balance, increases the change of hypothermia. It’s dangerous for passengers to drink and boat as well.”
The awareness campaign will see signs about the dangers of drinking and boating go up on coolers at high traffic marinas and in all BC liquor store locations.
(Files from Shannon Waters with MY PRINCE GEORGE NOW)