Most Common Causes of On-water
Incidents or Fatalities

You should be aware of behaviours and events that can contribute to boating incidents and fatalities.   With this knowledge you will be more aware of dangerous actions and conditions and will be able take preventative action.

The Canadian Red Cross Drowning Report and the Canadian Lifesaving Society National Boating Fatalities Report identifies various causes for most boating related incidents and fatalities.

A recent study showed that that 37% of water-related deaths occurred due to capsizing, 25% due to person overboard and 13% due to swamping.   91% of boating victims were male.

The causes contributing to boating fatalities listed below will be covered in more detail in other sections of this course.


  Not Wearing Personal Flotation Device (PFD) 01.01#00

The vast majority of Canadian boating victims were not wearing a lifejacket or PFD when they drowned.     The message for boaters is to wear a PFD or lifejacket at all times when on the water.


    Person Overboard 01.02#00

A person can fall or be thrown overboard with no advance warning.
The wearing of a PFD or lifejacket greatly improves chances of survival.


    Capsizing and Collision 01.03#00

Collisions can almost always be avoided by being vigilant and operating at a safe speed for the conditions and circumstances.   Capsizing (sinking, swamping, grounding) can be minimized by keeping your vessel in good condition, being continuously aware of your location and surrounding hazards, and by carrying appropriate emergency repair tools and materials.


    Alcohol and Drug-related Boat Operation 01.04#00

Alcohol was involved in more than 40% of boating fatalities.   Alcohol or drugs intensify the effect of fatigue, sun, wind and boat motion to adversely affect balance, judgement and reaction time. Don't operate a vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.