Healthy Living in the North

Staying safe on the water this summer

This summer, we want to know what wellness means to you! Share a photo, story, drawing, or video explaining what wellness means to you for a chance to win a grand prize! To inspire you, we’ve featured regular wellness content on the Northern Health Matters blog all summer long!


I was out on our boat last weekend and it was wonderful! I love the sound of the water splashing up against the boat, the warm sun on my face, the wind whipping through my hair, and the smell of fresh, clean air. I love watching the other boats go by; there is such a variety, from fishing boats, ski boats, and pontoon boats, to pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, and stand up boards. No matter what type of boat we come across, the one constant out on the lake is the happiness of those playing in, on, and near the water. The smiles, giggles, and friendly waves as we pass by are infectious and I feel connected to everyone who chooses to be out there.

children wearing lifejackets, fishing off boat

Close by isn’t close enough. Wear your lifejacket in, on, and around the water.

As I was sitting at the back of the boat, I was thinking about this sense of community that comes from a shared love of the fun and adventure of being out on the water. I care about my community and the people who help me feel connected to the joy of living in northern BC, and I believe every person deserves to stay safe every time they are out on the water. Just as seat belts and child safety seats are a key part of keeping us safe on the roads, lifejackets are critical to keeping us safe and keeping the water playtime fun.

Lifejackets save lives. They are like round-trip insurance. When everyone wears a lifejacket and the water fun is done for the day, everyone comes in safely. But, as the Canadian Red Cross highlights, of those who drown every year while boating, over 87% were not wearing a lifejacket when they drowned. Close by isn’t close enough.   Lifejackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) are the accessory that everyone in the boat, on the water, by the dock, or at the water’s edge has to wear. It is important to wear the right size lifejacket for the right activity, every time, no matter how calm the water or how strong a swimmer you are.

children being pulled on a water tube

Lifejackets are critical to keeping everyone safe and keeping the water playtime fun. 

As we enjoy a summer of wellness, please join me in committing to keeping our communities and water fun safe. Wear your lifejacket or PFD every time you are out enjoying beautiful, natural northern BC.

For more tips on swimming, boating, and water safety, check out:

Denise Foucher

About Denise Foucher

Denise is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about working towards health and wellness for everyone in Northern B.C. When not at work, Denise can be found out at the lake, walking her dog, planning her next travel adventure, or snuggled in a cozy chair with a good book.

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Preventable’s advice: Have a word with yourself!

English Bay statues wearing lifejackets

Vancouver’s statues at English Bay wearing lifejackets for Preventable’s water safety campaign. (Photo borrowed from preventable.ca)

Last month, Preventable launched their water safety awareness campaign with oversized lifejackets on the laughing statues in Vancouver. When I saw the promotions for this campaign, I wondered where we could have ‘dressed’ local mascots and statues to draw attention to water safety in communities across Northern B.C.?

The media release for this campaign noted that every year in B.C., at least 60 British Columbians drown. Ninety percent of those who drown while boating do not wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD).

The Preventable campaign, in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and BC Hydro, took over Vancouver’s much-loved sculpture “A-maze-ing Laughter” at English Bay. They dressed the sculpture in oversized orange lifejackets and set out a sign beside the display, reminding people to have a word with themselves before they think drowning only happens to other people.

I encourage everyone to check out the Preventable website for great information and thought-provoking discussions that might help you start thinking about the right things before you get out on the water: Are you wearing appropriate safety equipment, including approved personal floatation devices (PFDs)? Are you taking appropriate safety precautions while operating a boat? Or are you ignoring obvious risks by thinking that bad things only happen to “other people?”

The goal is to get us all thinking about risks, consequences and choices we make every day at work, home, at play and on the road. Before you jump into that pool or lake, or climb onto the Jet Ski or boat, and think that drowning only happens to other people, have a word with yourself.

What mascots or statues in Northern B.C. do you think would look great with a lifejacket on?

Denise Foucher

About Denise Foucher

Denise is an injury prevention coordinator with Northern Health’s population health team and is passionate about working towards health and wellness for everyone in Northern B.C. When not at work, Denise can be found out at the lake, walking her dog, planning her next travel adventure, or snuggled in a cozy chair with a good book.

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