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Water Wise, Play Safe

This page was reviewed or revised on Wednesday, May 22, 2013 11:45 AM

What is Water Wise?

Water Wise is an injury prevention campaign to reduce drowning and other water-related injuries. It does not matter if you are at the beach, on a boat or at a public or backyard pool, make your play around water safe to avoid injuries that can last a lifetime.

Water Wise - Keep Afloat

Drowning is one of the leading causes of injury-related death in Canada. About 90% of people who drowned in recreational boating incidents were not wearing a lifejacket. Lifejackets and personal floatation devices (PFDs) save lives when worn.

The 2 main causes of boating emergencies are:
• boaters not wearing a PFD or lifejacket
• alcohol

According to the law, you must have a properly fitted PFD or lifejacket for everyone aboard your boat. 
Fact sheet on Keep Afloat.


A lifejacket is the best protection when playing in the water. Lifejackets offer a high level of safety. Lifejackets are designed to turn you on your back and keep your face out of the water, even if you are unconscious.

Lifejackets are not approved for infants under 9 kg (20 lbs).

Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs)

A Canadian approved PFD is designed to keep you afloat in the water. PFDs are more comfortable than lifejackets because they are designed for constant wear; however, they do not offer the same level of protection as lifejackets.


A child's PFD or lifejacket is NOT a substitute for adult supervision. Young children under 5 years of age, and weak swimmers, should wear lifejackets when they are in, or around water.

There is no PFD for children under 9 kg (20 lbs). In fact, inflatable PFDs are not recommended for children. Studies show that most children cannot make quick decisions in an emergency situation.

A suitable floatation device for kids should have these features:
• Large collar for head support
• Safety strap that goes between the legs to prevent the device from slipping over the child's head
• Buckles on safety straps
• Reflective tape

Is there a lifejacket made for my baby?

No! In Canada, there is not an approved lifejacket for babies under 9 kg (20 lbs); no device can be approved for this group.

It won't work if you don't wear it

If you want your child to wear a lifejacket, set a good example and do the same. That means wearing a lifejacket at all times. Put it on before you leave the dock. If something happens, you will not have enough time to locate and put on a PFD, especially in dark, cold, or windy conditions.

Related Links on this Website

Pool Safety Brochure (June 2011)

Water Wise Protect Your Family Around Water (May 2012)

Useful Videos

Transport Canada

Useful Links

Canadian Red Cross

Parachute Canada

BOATSmart Canada

Healthy Canadians

Transport Canada

Boating Safety Guide