4. Safety Equipment

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Question 4.1

You are required to carry onboard a lifejacket or PFD of an appropriate size for each person onboard and to make sure that everyone onboard wears a lifejacket or PFD of an appropriate size. The chart below outlines the different types of lifejackets and PFDs .

  Lifejackets Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
Types Standard Lifejacket
SOLAS Lifejacket
Small Vesel Regulations Lifejacket

Inherently buoyant PFD


Inflatable PFD


Styles Keyhole Keyhole Keyhole or vest type Vest, coat, coverall or keyhole Vest or pouch
Colours Orange, red or yellow Orange, red or yellow Orange, red or yellow Any colour (bright colours recommended) Any colour (bright colours recommended)
Approval TC TC TC TC , DFO , CCG TC , DFO , CCG
Sizes Under 40 kg (90 lbs);
Over 40 kg
Under 32 kg (70 lbs);
Over 32 kg
Under 18 kg (40 lbs);
18 kg up to 40 kg;
Over 40 kg (90 lbs)
Range of sizes from child to adult Adult over 36 kg (80lbs); adjusts to size
Turning ability?
(Keeps your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious)
Yes Yes For most people No, provides flotation only Not guaranteed, but tends to turn a person when inflated.

Question 4.2

Inherently buoyant PFDs or lifejackets do not require any action to activate flotation; they are often made from unicellular foam or macro-cellular elements. This differs from inflatable PFDs and lifejackets, where you have to pull on a tab, blow in a tube or be submerged in water to activate the inflation.

Examples of inherently buoyant lifejackets: See chart in questions 4.1 for details on different types of lifejackets and PFDs

Example of an inherently buoyant PFD: See chart in questions 4.1 for details on different types of lifejackets and PFDs

Question 4.3

Operating a vessel in class 3 or above waters increases the likelihood of a person being thrown overboard. On these voyages, each person must wear an appropriately sized helmet. Wearing a helmet saves lives and protects persons from serious head injuries.

“Class 3 or above waters” (defined in section 300 of the Small Vessel Regulations) means waters that have rapids with moderate and irregular waves; or rapids that are stronger, have more obstructions or are otherwise more difficult to navigate than rapids with moderate and irregular waves.

“Helmet” (defined in section 300 of the Small Vessel Regulations) means a helmet that has a fastening system and that is designed to protect a person’s head from injury from the mid-line of the forehead to the back of the crown of the head.

Question 4.4

A buoyant heaving line is thrown toward a person in the water for them to hold onto while you pull them alongside your boat. The throw bag keeps it from getting knotted and makes it easier to throw.

An example of a buoyant heaving line is a 15m x 7mm polypropylene floating rope with a bright orange nylon and polyester self-draining bag with reflective safety tape.


Question 4.5

You must be sure that the batteries in your watertight flashlight are still fully charged before every trip.  It is a good idea to check the flashlight regularly and to keep spare batteries on hand.

Apart from its use as emergency lighting, your watertight flashlight may be needed to signal for help.


Questions 4.6 and 4.7

When buying marine distress flares, you should look for a Transport Canada approval stamp or label. There are four types of flares: A, B, C and D.

  • Type A: Rocket Parachute Flare,
  • Type B: Multi-Star Flare,
  • Type C: Hand-Held Flare,
  • Type D: Smoke Signal (Buoyant or Hand-Held)

Your flares must be of type A, B or C.

Remember that flares are only good for four years from the date of manufacture (not the date of purchase), which is stamped on every flare. You should also ask the manufacturer how to dispose of your expired flares.

Flares should be kept within reach and stored vertically in a cool, dry location (such as a watertight container) to keep them in good working condition.


Question 4.8

You must have a first aid kit onboard your vessel. This first aid kit must be packed in a waterproof case capable of being tightly closed after use and must be either:

  1. A marine emergency first aid kit that contains the following:

    • An up-to-date first aid manual or up-to-date first aid instructions, in English and French
    • 48 doses of analgesic medication of a non-narcotic type
    • Six safety pins or one roll of adhesive first aid tape
    • One pair of bandage scissors or safety scissors
    • One resuscitation face shield
    • Two pairs of examination gloves
    • 10 applications of antiseptic preparations
    • 12 applications of burn preparations
    • 20 adhesive plasters in assorted sizes
    • 10 sterile compression bandages in assorted sizes
    • 4 m of elastic bandage
    • Two sterile gauze compresses
    • Two triangular bandages
    • A waterproof list of the contents, in English and French

    Note: You may meet this requirement either by buying a kit that contains all of the above items or you may purchase the above items separately. In either situation, the items must be stored in a waterproof case.


  2. A first aid kit that meets the requirements of the Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Regulations or of provincial regulations governing workers’ compensation, with the addition of a resuscitation face shield and two pairs of examination gloves if the kit does not already contain them.

Question 4.9

Bailers must hold at least 750 ml (just over 1½ pints), have an opening of at least 65 cm2 (10 in2) and be made of plastic or metal.

If you have a manual bilge pump, the pump and hose must be long enough to reach the bilge space and pump the water over the side of the boat.


Question 4.10

When the freeboard exceeds 0.5 m (1’8”) you will need a reboarding device.

Freeboard is the vertical height a person must climb to reboard the boat from the water.

A “reboarding device” (defined in section 1 of the Small Vessel Regulations) means a ladder, lifting harness or other device that does not include any part of the vessel’s propulsion unit and that assists a person to gain access to the vessel from the water.

If your vessel has transom ladders or swim platform ladders it already meets this requirement.


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