Kelowna’s Regional RCMP is reminding lake goers to paddle by the rules this summer – a reminder stemming from Lake Okanagan, but extending to all water users in B.C. 

The RCMP said in a release last week its officers are seeing many paddlers not wearing or without a lifejacket even while far from shore, or very close to the active boating lanes in the middle of the lake. 

“While conducting these checks, officers have been surprised by how many people are not only unaware of the requirements, but lack of simple safety practices,” said Cst. Mike Della-Paolera, media relations officer with the Kelowna Regional RCMP. “A ticket for not having a lifejacket or PFD can cost the guilty party $287.50. For your own safety, please wear a lifejacket when out enjoying our beautiful lake.”

Paddle boarders travelling on the water in Canada are required to be wearing an approved lifejacket or Personal Floatation Device (PFD), or at least have either on board, as per the Small Vessels Regulations under the Canada Shipping Act. Life jackets and PFDs must be Canadian Coast Guard approved and clearly show their respective label.

Police recommended that paddle boarders wear their tether at all times to avoid being separated from their boards. If the paddler is wearing their life jacket or PFD, they are only required to carry a sound signalling device such as a whistle. Those not wearing their life jacket or PFD must have it on the board, along with a 15 metre buoyant heaving line in a throw bag and a sound signalling device. Anyone paddling after sunset, before sunrise, or in periods of restricted visibility must also carry a watertight flashlight.

For more information on paddle boarding safety, visit the Parks Canada website.