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Safety is a critical component of running a club or coaching! Check out these resources and ideas for making your rowing spaces safer.

Safety for your club

Every rowing club should have safety policies in place. Those policies should include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Safety advisor – including what the responsibilities are for this role
  • Local safety code – including traffic patterns, rowing times related to sunrise/sunset, responsibilities of rowers, coaches, etc.
  • Emergency communication – (see Emergency Action Plan)
  • Local hazards – including currents and obstacles specific to your space and other recreational and commercial traffic
  • Safety equipment and first aid – including the location of, and maintenance plan for, any first aid equipment
  • Risk management plan – including a plan for regularly scheduled practice sessions
  • Safety requirements – including the minimum training and screening requirements for coaches, staff, and volunteers; and forms that are to be used to report any incidents
  • Concussions – including which concussion tools will be used for suspected concussion and return to activity
  • Cold/hot weather – including temperature parameters, icy conditions, and plans for after an issue has arisen
  • Poor air quality – including specific parameters for activity and which reliable resources will be used to make a determination

For more details, check out Rowing Canada Aviron’s Rowing Safely Guidelines.

An Emergency Action Plan should be created and posted in easy to find spots in the rowing environment. Near a phone, at all entrances, and in coach boats are all good options.

The EAP should include the following:

  • Local emergency numbers
  • Local VHF radio emergency contacts
  • Address of the club and identified pull-out spots
  • Address of nearest hospital or healthcare facility
  • A script for use during a call to emergency services
  • Contact information for club personnel who should be notified of an emergency situation

A sample EAP is available HERE. More information about emergency communication plans can be found in Rowing Canada Aviron’s Rowing Safely Guidelines.

All rowing clubs in British Columbia should follow Transport Canada regulations around the use of small vessels. Check out these references for details:

Coach/Safety boats fall under the Small Vessel Regulations. You can find details using any of the links above. Check here for the condensed version of the equipment needed:

  • An appropriately sized, Canadian-approved PFD or lifejacket, for each person on board and for each person in the largest rowing shell they are supervising
  • A buoyant heaving line (15m in length)
  • A manual propelling device or anchor with at least 15m of length
  • A bailer or hand pump
  • A sound signalling device
  • Navigation lights if the boat is used between sunset/sunrise or during periods of reduced visibility
  • A waterproof flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares
  • The license of the individual operating the boat

Rowing shells are exempt from these requirements IF they are engaged in activities with a club or insured event and they are accompanied by a safety boat. If not, they should have the following aboard:

  • A PFD for each person aboard
  • A sound signalling device
  • A watertight flashlight if the rowing shell is operated between sunset and sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility

Safety Equipment

The equipment that your club keeps on hand will vary based on the situation. Some items that clubs should have in the environment:

  • First Aid Kit (checked and maintained regularly)
  • System for logging who is on the water
  • Extra PFDs
  • Extra hardware
  • Dry clothing and blankets

Additional items that are great if feasible:

  • AED
  • Access to ice or cold packs
  • VHF radios

Coach/Safety boats fall under the Small Vessel Regulations. You can find details using any of the links above. Check here for the condensed version of the equipment needed:

  • An appropriately sized, Canadian-approved PFD or lifejacket, for each person on board and for each person in the largest rowing shell they are supervising
  • A buoyant heaving line (15m in length)
  • A manual propelling device or anchor with at least 15m of length
  • A bailer or hand pump
  • A sound signalling device
  • Navigation lights if the boat is used between sunset/sunrise or during periods of reduced visibility
  • A waterproof flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares
  • The license of the individual operating the boat

Coach boats could also have the following items to increase safety:

  • The club’s Emergency Action Plan
  • Waterway map with pull-out locations marked
  • First Aid kit
  • Tools
  • VHF radio
  • Emergency blankets

Rowing shells are exempt from Small Vessel Regulations IF they are engaged in activities with a club or insured event and they are accompanied by a safety boat. If not, they should have the following aboard:

  • A PFD for each person aboard
  • A sound signalling device
  • A watertight flashlight if the rowing shell is operated between sunset and sunrise or in periods of restricted visibility

Additionally, rowing shells should be equipped with this rowing specific safety equipment:

  • A bow ball of at least 4cm in diameter that is firmly affixed to the bow of the boat, unless the shape of the bow does not create a particular safety hazard
  • Heel restraints of no longer than 7cm in length
  • A single-hand release mechanism for shoes

These safety features should be checked each time a boat is used, not just at control commission of your next regatta.

Additional Resources

This list includes items that you can print and post around your club or use as references for creating your own documents.

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