Safety Handbook

Published March 2019

Download Printable Handbook

A. Safety Code

  1. Safety is the responsibility of all rowers, coaches and volunteers at KRC.
  2. This safety handbook contains the rules that apply both on and off the water.
  3. It is the responsibility of all rowers, coaches and volunteers to understand the KRC safety handbook and the Transport Canada regulations for boating, particularly as they apply to rowing.

B. Safety Policy & Procedures

1. Physical Requirements

Prior to rowing with KRC, and with annual membership renewal, all rowers (and guardians of junior rowers) must sign a liability waiver and assumption of risk form to confirm he / she meets the physical requirements as laid out below. If the physical requirements cannot be met, the rower (and guardians of junior rowers) must sign the waiver acknowledging they understand the risks associated with being on the water.

  1. All rowers must be able to swim 50 meters, tread water for five minutes and put on and secure a life vest while in the water.
  2. If a rower cannot swim, he / she must wear an approved PFD when on the water.
  3. Junior rowers under the age of 16 must always wear an approved PFD when on the water.
  4. All rowers will disclose any medical condition(s) that may require intervention or affect training. The rower is responsible for managing any medical condition.

2. Safety Training

  1. It is the responsibility of each rower and coach in KRC rowing programs to be aware of the contents of the KRC Safety Handbook prior to involvement in rowing.
  2. All rowers and coaches will attend a review session of rules and safety procedures at the commencement of the season/program.
  3. All rowers and coaches must be familiar with danger spots, obstructions and other safety hazards and with the location of safe beaches.
  4. All rowers and coach(es) will sign the Safety Handbook Acknowledgment form certifying that they have read the KRC Safety Handbook and that they will abide by the policies and procedures outlined.
  5. The KRC Safety Handbook will be made available to all rowers and coaches:
    1. It will be posted on the KRC website; and
    2. A hardcopy will be available at the club.

3. Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC)

Any coach, rower or volunteer operating a powered craft on behalf of KRC must have and carry with them a valid PCOC from an accredited boating safety program.

4. Hours of Operation

  1. Sunrise: All boats that head out onto the water prior to sunrise must be equipped with proper safety lights (red bow light, and white lights at stern, port side and starboard side - all lights set to flashing).
  2. Sunset: All boats must be off the water within half an hour after sunset.

5. Supervision

The Log Record

  1. All rowers must log out before going on the water and log in when they return.
  2. The log record must include:
    1. the name / type (e.g. 2x, 4x etc.) of each shell being rowed;
    2. the name of each rower in each shell;
    3. the time each shell is launched and the time it is returned; and
    4. the direction the shell is being rowed (e.g. Kelowna or Penticton).

On the Water

  1. Juniors (rowers under the age of 19 years) must not proceed onto the water without the supervision of a coach or his/her designate in a safety boat.
  2. Novices (rowers with 1 year of rowing or less) must not proceed onto the water without the supervision of a coach or his/her designate in a safety boat.
  3. Junior and Novice crews must have a maximum safety boat to athlete ratio of:
    1. 1:10 (1x and 2x boats);
    2. 1:15 (4x boats); including passengers in the safety boat
  4. Experienced Master crews in a structured program must have a maximum safety boat to athlete ratio of 1:18, including passengers in the safety boat.
  5. It is the responsibility of all crews to stay in visual contact with the safety boat.
  6. At least one safety boat must remain on the water or ready at the club beachfront until all crews are off the water.
  7. In the event of adverse conditions, including weather and crowded waterways, all crews must keep in close proximity to the safety boat.

6. Rower Responsibilities

  1. All rowers and coaches will respect the rights of other users of Gellatly Bay and surrounding areas of Okanagan Lake and obey the rowing course rules established by KRC. Rowers and coaches shall be aware of and remain courteous to other users at all times.
  2. In non-coxed shells, the bow person (or designate) is responsible for safe and courteous steering and must always maintain adequate forward lookout, normally accomplished by frequent shoulder checks to both sides.
  3. It is the responsibility of each crew to stay within 500 meters from another rowing shell or safety boat and they must turn around in order to maintain the distance restriction.
  4. It is the responsibility of each crew to be aware at all times of:
    1. the position of other crews and the safety boat, other boats, other watercraft and the shoreline;
    2. any hazards in the water; and
    3. any change in weather conditions.
  5. It is the responsibility of the bow person in each rowing shell to ensure their boat stays on course.
  6. It is the responsibility of all rowers to wear bright, visible colours when on the water.

7. Coaching Requirements & Responsibilities

  1. The Head Coach and regular safety boat operators are encouraged to have current certification in Standard First Aid.
  2. Coaches must attend a safety review session at the beginning of the program/season each year.
  3. Coaches and volunteers who operate a safety boat for KRC must:
    1. carry a valid Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC);
    2. have a working knowledge of Transport Canada marine regulations, as summarized in the Safe Boating Guide;
    3. operate the coach boat safely;
    4. be able to perform a water rescue; and
    5. be able to respond to on-water emergencies.
  4. Coaches are responsible for:
    1. checking the weather report before going out on the water;
    2. determining whether it is safe for rowers to go out on the water;
    3. responding to rowers in distress and on water emergencies;
    4. directing supervised rowers while they are on the water;
    5. checking the safety boat before going on the water to ensure it has all the required safety equipment (and that the safety equipment is in working order).

8. Equipment Requirements

All vessels must adhere to the appropriate Transport Canada Regulations. For further details, refer to the Safe Boating Guide and Transport Canada boating regulations.

Rowing Shells

  1. All rowing shells on the water must be safe, towable and maintained in good working order.
  2. It is recommended that each athlete wear a pea-less, waterproof whistle on their person while on the water.
  3. All rowing shells on the water must contain:
    1. a bow ball;
    2. heel restraints to allow for ‘hands-free’ release of feet;
    3. a sound signalling device;
    4. navigation lights (forward and aft) if the shell is on the water before sunrise or after sunset or in periods of restricted visibility; and
    5. an inflatable personal floatation device (PFD) or lifejacket of appropriate size for each person on board.

Safety Boats

  1. The Canadian capacity limit must be clearly displayed on each safety boat.
  2. All safety boat operators must be appropriately instructed in the operation of the safety boat.
  3. Safety boats must be inspected daily to ensure that all equipment is in safe and proper working condition.

    1. Ensure the plug is properly secured in place;
    2. Ensure the hull is in proper condition; and
    3. Ensure there are no objects under the hull that will cause damage when the safety boat is moved to the
    4. water.
    1. Ensure the engine transom clamps are firmly tightened;
    2. Ensure the engine is in good working order;
    3. Ensure that all gas lines are properly secured;
    4. Ensure that the gas tank contains sufficient fuel;
    5. Put engine in neutral before starting; and
    6. Ensure the kill switch and cord are attached to the engine and the safety boat operator.
  4. Safety boats must carry:
    1. PFD of appropriate size and type for each rower being supervised (who is not already carrying their PFD in their shell) and each person in the safety boat;
    2. a buoyant heaving line 15m or longer;
    3. three approved flares (Type A, B or C) or a watertight hand-held searchlight;
    4. two oars or one paddle;
    5. a bailer;
    6. a sound signalling device;
    7. a First Aid kit (to be fully stocked and checked regularly);
    8. sufficient number of space blankets, garbage bags or other item to protect res- cued rowers from windchill (5 per safety boat); and
    9. a toolbox with typical rowing shell equipment supplies.

9. Weather Restrictions

The coach or his/her designate is responsible for determining if conditions are too dangerous to row. No rower will be required to row against his/her better judgment if conditions are questionable.

When in doubt, don't go out!

  1. Always check the weather, water conditions and air quality before going out on the water. Remember that the weather can change much more quickly and more violently on the water.
  2. All coaches and rowers must be aware of the potential danger from darkness, fog, high winds, ice, cold water, storms, poor air quality and any combination of the above.
  3. Rowing will not occur:
    1. in foggy or smoky conditions if visibility falls below 1000 meters.
      1. If fog or smoke descends while crews are on the water, restricting visibility to less than 1000m, row to the nearest shoreline and follow it back to the club. Use ex- treme caution to avoid colliding with other boaters (including rowers), buoys or rowing through hazardous areas.
      2. The safety boat should stay with the rowing shells and set itself up near hazard- ous areas.
    2. if thunder is heard or lighting is expected.
      1. If thunder begins while crews are on the water, turn around and head back to the club. If thunder AND lightning begins, head immediately to the closest shoreline, and get out of the boat.
  4. Use common sense about going out in wind, heat or cold weather conditions.
    1. Rowing in extreme water/wind conditions:
      1. If extreme conditions whip up while crews are on the water, row to the most ac- cessible safe beach. If that is not possible and the safety of rowers is at stake, row to the nearest shoreline and get off the lake.
    2. Rowing in hot weather:
      1. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are the primary dangers - bring enough water and drink it!
      2. Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your head and eyes
      3. Use sunscreen
    3. Rowing in cold weather:
      1. Wear layers, including a hat, and sunglasses to protect your eyes
      2. Wear pogies or gloves
      3. Wear wool socks

10. Flow Pattern

All rowers and coaches must be familiar with the KRC flow pattern (see Maps). The KRC flow pattern is for the safety of rowers and is not recognized by other lake users.

It is the responsibility of all rowers to stay within 200 meters from shore, or a reasonable dis- tance from hazards (such as docks, buoys and/or moored boats), and to follow the KRC flow pattern.

The KRC flow pattern follows the shoreline and does not cut straight across open bodies of water.

Boats heading away from KRC are to row closest to the shore.

Boats returning to KRC are to row further out by a sufficient distance so as to avoid colliding with boats traveling in the opposite direction.

It is the responsibility of all crews to follow the directions given by the coach or his/her desig- nate. Rowers may deviate from the posted flow pattern only when accompanied by a coach (or his/her designate) who is in a position to see and warn rowers and others in the area.

The workout plan will be discussed and communicated by the coach or his/her designate to all rowers before any boats are put in the water.

Collision Rules for Rowers:

Look around often and don't hit anyone!

All boaters on Okanagan Lake, including rowers and safety boat drivers, are responsible for knowing and adhering to the Transport Canada Collision Regulations. It is the responsibility of all boaters (including rowers) to do everything in their power to avoid a collision.

Priority of right of way between rowers is as follows:

  1. rowers following the posted flow pattern
  2. faster rowers who are overtaking slower boats - faster boats should overtake on the port side

Rowers who do not have the right of way are expected to yield to those that do. If you see a boat bearing down on you, it is your responsibility to give warning. Shout loudly until a response is received.

C. Emergency Procedures

1. Emergency Agencies

For any emergency requiring external assistance, telephone 911 and state:
  1. Which agency is required (Police, Ambulance, Fire).
  2. Your name and location:
    West Kelowna Yacht Club
    4111 Gellatly Road, West Kelowna, B.C.
  3. A concise description of the event.
  4. Any need for water rescue.

2. On Site Authority

The senior coach present will assume command in the event of an emergency and will direct and control operations until the arrival of appropriate authorities. When emergency personnel arrive, the coach will identify him or herself and continue to liaise with authorities and direct KRC personnel accordingly.

Inexperienced operators or improperly equipped individuals will not be allowed on the water dur- ing an emergency situation.

3. Extreme Water Conditions

Should unsafe conditions occur during training, rowers will immediately proceed to the most accessible and safest location or to any available shoreline if necessary and get off the water.

Personal safety is paramount and supersedes the safety of equipment

Safe Beaches (Maps):

  1. Sunnyside Beach (private)
  2. Kalamoir Park
  3. Casa Loma
  4. Pritchard Beach
  5. Barona Beach
  6. Rotary Beach / Dog Beach
  7. Willow Beach
  8. The Cove

The rowing shell(s) must be removed from the water and placed upside-down on the riggers and out of the wind if possible while the rowers await rescue. If safe to do so, crew should stand on the windward side of the shell while lifting, facilitating the lifting process by preventing further swamping of the shell.

4. Signals


INTERNATIONAL DISTRESS SIGNAL - Raise and lower outstretched arms repeatedly. Use only for serious trouble.

  1. Daylight: blow whistle, yell for help.
  2. Darkness: blow whistle and wave light overhead.


LAUNCH - HELP REQUIRED - Wave one arm over your head.
GO-ON-BY - Wave one arm in a throwing fashion.

When a coach responding to an emergency is unable to supervise the remaining rowers, he/she will sound two short blasts with an air-horn, followed by one long blast. All rowers must immedi- ately return to the Club.

5. Boat Mishaps / Survival Procedures

Rowers are still in the boat and the boat is floating:

  1. All rowers must remain as calm as possible.
  2. One person will assume command and check every rower continually until rescued.
  3. All rowers must immediately put on any available clothing, then put on and inflate any PFD that is stowed in the boat.
  4. The coxswain or bow person must immediately utilize the light and/or whistle to signal the safety boat.
  5. If the PFDs are stored in the safety boat, they must be distributed and put on (and inflated) immediately.

Shell is swamped but floating and rowers are still in the shell:

  1. Align the shell to minimize further swamping (with bow or stern angled into the wind and oncoming waves).
  2. Keep the shell balanced and upright and remain in your seat awaiting rescue. Assume a fetal position at the top of the slide.

Shell is sinking deeper into the water, submerged or capsized and safe harbour is not possible, the following procedures are to be followed:

  1. Roll the shell upside down to increase buoyancy by trapping as much air as possible. If wind is a factor, roll with the wind. Oars should remain in the oarlocks to increase buoy- ancy.
  2. ROWERS MUST STAY WITH THE SHELL AND NOT A TTEMPT TO SWIM TO SHORE. Both the shell and the oars usually float and will support the crew. The group will “buddy up” across the shell with even distribution on either side of the shell (1&2 / 3&4) and hud- dle towards the middle or high point of the shell. Each buddy is responsible for holding onto the other person while they are draped across the shell.
  3. Pairing is essential as it gives added life support to each rower (each is holding onto the life of another). This facilitates reciprocal communication and positive support. This rela- tionship should continue until actual rescue, when rowers must be rescued in pairs. This will prevent a premature feeling of relief resulting from rescue contact, and letting go be- fore the rescuers take firm hold of the rowers.

Once the safety boat arrives, the coach or safety boat operator assesses the situation and as- sumes command.

Cold Water Considerations

  1. Minimize movement to preserve body heat (no swimming or treading water). Use the HELP (Heat Escape Lessen Position) or a modified HELP position when buddying up across the overturned shell.
  2. Keep clothes on and put on hat/mitts, etc.
  3. Get your body as much out of the water as possible: get on top of the shell.
  4. Assume the fetal position if possible. Protect groin, armpits, neck and head as much as possible.

Small Boat Considerations

  1. Small boats, where possible, must row in groups. If a partner’s shell submerges or capsizes, the “buddy” rower(s) must ensure they are out of danger (back in the shell or on shore) before going to get help.
  2. The smaller the shell, the better the relative buoyancy. It is possible to re-enter the shell and get ashore if conditions are not serious.
  3. To re-enter the shell, make sure the oars are perpendicular to the shell and grasp with one hand. Pull yourself up so you are lying across the bow side of the cockpit. Pivot to seat yourself on the runners. Slowly maneuver your legs into position. (Go one at a time in crew boats, but all oars should be perpendicular).

6. Rescue Procedures

Launch Capacity

  1. The maximum legal capacity of a safety boat shall not be exceeded in a rescue. The maximum capacity will be labeled and visible on each safety boat.
  2. In extreme conditions, those rescued must be taken to shore or to the nearest safe spot. As many trips are to be taken as are required to remove all those involved in the accident as quickly and safely as possible

PFDs / Life Jackets

  1. Each rescuer must wear an appropriate PFD or lifejacket and extra PFDs or lifejackets must be put in the safety boat in case of need.


  1. Any mishap must be approached from leeward, into the wind, to prevent the safety boat from being pushed onto the shell(s) and to ensure maximum control.

Assessing the Situation

  1. The condition of the people in the water and the severity of the circumstances must be assessed quickly.
  2. Verbal contact with those in the water must be established so that they can be talked through the rescue quickly: tell the people in the water what is going to happen so they know what is going on.
  3. Those in greatest risk / distress must be rescued first. Rescue must occur in pairs.
  4. A head count must be conducted upon the safety boat arriving and then repeated upon leaving.

7. Treatment

Conditions of Hypothermia or Heat Stroke

Loss of heat occurs more rapidly in cold water than in cold air. Immersion in cold water can lead to cold shock, cold incapacitation and mild to severe hypothermia.

Mild Hypothermia

Core body temperature 35-32C. Symptoms include mental and physical impairment (fine and gross motor skills).

Moderate to Severe Hypothermia

Core body temperature drops below 32C. Symptoms range from mild shivering and complaints of feeling chilled to loss of consciousness, absence of reflexes and barely detectable pulse and respirations. Act as follows:

  1. Maintain an airway, artificial respiration at a rate of 1/2 normal breathing (CPR). Only perform CPR if breathing stops.
  2. Transfer to a warm environment as soon as possible (e.g. space blanket in safety boat). Remove wet clothing and begin to warm neck, head and trunk (avoiding extremities).
  3. Fluid intake should be avoided.
  4. Transfer to medical care as soon as possible.


Appears death-like, little or no cardio-respiratory function, unconscious. Act as follows:

  2. DO NOT APPLY EXTERNAL CARDIAC COMPRESSION as this may cause ventricular fibrillation.
  3. Maintain an airway, provide artificial respiration.
  4. Avoid physical manipulation of the victim. Monitoring the carotid pulse must be gentle to avoid triggering reflexes that may cause ventricular fibrillation.

Heat Stroke

Potentially fatal, appears confused, nausea, vomiting, seizures, ultimately loses consciousness. Act as follows:

  1. Immediate medical help is required.
  2. Maintain a horizontal body position to guarantee blood supply to the brain. Lower body temperature by immersing in or cooling with water (hose). Stop when victim is conscious and alert.

8. Reporting Incidents

All incidents and accidents involving KRC members and/or other users of Kelowna Rowing Club will be reported to the KRC board within 24 hours by the coach or his/her designate and documented in the Incident Report Book. The report will include names of all members involved in the incident and will be signed by at least one witness.

On-Water Incidents include:

  1. Collisions or near collisions between rowers;
  2. Collisions, near collisions or confrontations between rowers and other lake users;
  3. Significant/unsafe deviations from the KRC flow pattern or violations of the KRC Safety Code;

Off-Water Incidents include:

  1. Injuries to KRC members and/or other users;
  2. Confrontations between KRC members and/or other individuals;
  3. Damage to KRC property and/or equipment.

For Incident Report Form and/or Injury Report Form - see Appendix 3

D. Penalties For Safety Infractions

Safety infractions will be handled by the head coach and board of directors subject to the following conditions:

  1. First infractions may result in an immediate suspension of up to 10 days plus a subsequent probationary period of three (3) months at the discretion of the head coach and/or board of directors.
  2. Suspended individuals must complete an open book exam on KRC safety policies and procedures before resuming any rowing activities or use of KRC equipment.
  3. Any subsequent infraction during the probationary period following any suspension will result in an immediate suspension of up to three (3) months at the discretion of the head coach and/or board of directors.
  4. Persistent or continuing infractions may result in permanent suspension of KRC membership privileges.
  5. Any rower or coach who has been expelled or suspended may appeal to the KRC board of directors.