Safety is one of those topics that need to be revisited on a regular basis. Not only is safety a state of preparation and a habit (hopefully) but one of attitude and mental vigilance. One must act safely and think safety.
It is extremely important that canoeists are aware of the safety requirements of canoes (kayaks, rowboats and rowing shells have the similar requirements) as mandated by the Canadian Coast Guard.
Two pieces of personal protection equipment are needed: a Canadian approved personal flotation device (PFD) and a buoyant heaving line.
Two pieces of boat safety equipment are required: a paddle and bailer.
Two pieces of navigation equipment are required. One is a sound-signalling device or appliance. A whistle attached to your life jacket works. If you are out canoeing after sunset and before sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility you are required to have appropriate navigation lights. Review Collision Regulations for more details on lights.
The above are the basics to canoeing safety in general. If you are going on an extended canoe trip then other safety considerations would be required. That said, there are some exceptions for racing canoes (as well as racing kayaks and rowing shells). A racing canoe is not required to carry the above mentioned equipment if it and its crew are engaged in formal training or in an official competition and it carries a PFD or life jacket of appropriate size for each member, a sound signalling device, and if it is operated after sunset and before sunrise, a watertight flashlight.
What does this mean for CKBC marathon members? It mean we highly recommend you wear your life jacket in all races. It is mandatory for the Prince George race because of the cold, snow-melt from the mountains is often at its peak mid June. There is now a much wider range of comfortable and fashionable PFDs available including a variety of colours, ones designed with women in mind, and in various inflatable configurations. When shopping keep in mind your need for visibility on or in the water. Get a comfortable PFD and wear it!
Other common-sense safety suggestions for training:
Make sure that your canoe is secured well on your vehicle during transportation. A canoe can be replaced but the potential on the roadway for injuring another driver/vehicle is real.
Canoe Kayak BC is the Provincial Sport Organization for the paddle sports and actively encourages and provides opportunities to enjoy, participate and excel in them. Members include competitive athletes, developing athletes, enthusiasts, coaches, officials, administrators and supporters of the sport. The association's mission enourages and promotes personal growth and success for our members through participation and performance in paddle sports.