According to the Canadian Safe Boating Council (CSBC), an estimated 40 percent of recreational boaters head out onto the water without the correct safety gear aboard their vessel. CSBC points to this statistic based on data gathered from Canadian Power Boat and Sail Squadron’s Recreational Vessel Courtesy Checks.
In response to this issue, the CSBC has created a nationwide online program for marine retail staff on how to educate boaters about their vessel safety requirements. Best of all the training is free and designates those completing the program a Safety Marine Specialist. The program is set for launch at the start of this year’s boating season.
Come summer, CSBC representatives will reach out to marine retailers across Canada to promote and implement the Safety First Marine program.
If you’re a marina operator, boat dealer or marine business with a storefront, the program is designed to improve your staff ’s knowledge base through manageable video modules. Safety First Marine Specialists ensure their customers are equipped with all the mandatory gear required aboard their boat by law, helping them to avoid a fine if inspected. They are also trained to present boaters the best available safety options, rather than simply the bare essentials.
“This program will help marine retailers to form a stronger relationship and level of trust with their customers,” explains John Gullick, CSBC’s President. “Increasing the knowledge of frontline staff can improve the customer’s safety as well as help marine retailers shine a spotlight on to this overlooked area of the business. The customer should at the very least be presented the options available so they can decide what will best serve their needs.”
To Gullick’s point, a customer could be presented a $23 keyhole lifejacket to meet part of their required safety equipment, but might be better served if shown a superior lifejacket that they would be more inclined to actually wear aboard their boat.
Education is broken into brief learning modules for several product categories. Upon completing a module, retail staff will be better prepared to inform consumers about the items they need in order to safely enjoy the water as well as avoid receiving a ticket while boating this summer.
Businesses can have their staff work through the modules piecemeal, allowing them to remain productive during busy periods. The program tracks a participant’s progress, allowing them to pick up where they left off if they’re required elsewhere.
“It’s approximately an hour of material in total, so a retail staff member can easily go through the program in one sitting,” says Gullick. “Or they can break it up as time permits, returning to it when they have the time. There is an element of interactivity for participants as they progress through the modules. Throughout the process there’s a series of self-assessment questions to find out if the salesperson received the message. Upon passing, they can download a certificate of achievement showing they’ve taken the course.”
Retail staff members completing the entire Safety First Marine program can now identify themselves as a Safety First Marine Specialist. The CSBC also plans to provide materials to help retailers identify their business as employing these Safety First Marine Specialists.
Gullick says these materials will include dealer/marina branded float plans, pre-departure checklists, safety equipment lists for various boat sizes and popular ‘boat notes’.
Safety First Marine modules:
- Anchors, Paddles and Oars
- Bailers and Bilge Pumps
- Charts, GPS and Compass
- Courses Beyond PCOC
- Electronic Depth Sounders
- Fire Suppression
- First Aid Kits and Spare Parts
- Float Plan
- Heaving Lines
- Navigation Lights and Radar Refl ectors
- PCOC Age Horsepower Restrictions
- Reboarding Devices
- Recreational Vessel Courtesy Checks
- Sound Signalling Devices
- Vessel Decals
CBSC’s Safety First Marine program has been made possible through a contribution agreement with Public Safety Canada. For Gullick, the measure of the program’s success would be seeing all boaters head out with a complete inventory of safety gear.
The CSBC is a charitable organization advocating for recreational boating safety since 1991. The group’s aim is to prevent boating injuries and drownings though education.
For more information on how to sign up, visit safetyfirstmarine.ca.