Life Jackets for Life is an initiative to change the law in Canada to require children to wear a life jacket while on small vessels. Accidents are the leading cause of death of children in Canada.(1) Many of these accidental deaths have occurred on Canada’s waterways while boating. Not wearing a life jack or personal flotation device (PFD) is the number one reason for drownings in boating related fatalities in all age categories above the age of 4.(2)
Simple, minor amendments to a regulation could save the lives of hundreds of children.
Organizations have been calling for the law to change for many years recommending amendments to regulations that could save the lives of hundreds of children. In a study conducted by the Red Cross, 298 children have died over two decades.(3) That’s an entire elementary school population. Government-funded investments in awareness campaigns, although helpful, are ineffective on their own to change lifejacket/PFD wearing behaviours.
In boating-related deaths for which personal flotation device (PFD) information was available, 81% were not wearing one at the time of the incident and an additional 5% were not wearing one properly.(4) This is an issue of boating culture which requires regulatory intervention to change behaviour, no different from past initiatives requiring young children to travel in car seats, wear bicycle helmets and seat belts.