Tackling the complex
Beyond his general work with Preventables, Dr Pike has spent the last ten years researching how to change dangerous attitudes in a very specific sub-sect of the population – recreational boaters. Dr Pike says this is the community at the most risk on the waters – those who boat recreationally, in interior waterways. Out of all the activities, boating is the leading cause of drowning in BC – with 21.8% of deaths by drowning from 2008-2016.
Dr Pike’s work attempts to meet people where they’re at. Their organization’s outreach takes the form of specific reminders in the time and place where the risk is the highest. He says that people often know what they should be doing – they just need a gentle reminder.
Their social marketing campaign has put safety message reminders on all kinds of props. Beach towels laid out on shore-fronts, messages wrapped around ice chests, and even pasted on the bottom of an overturned boat in a scene that makes it look as though someone has capsized. The reminders say “you probably didn’t think you were going to drown today.”
The idea of constant reminders is is a similar strategy to one used by Waterway Houseboats on the Shuswap Lake in BC’s interior, a popular destination for tourists, and the second deadliest lake in BC for drownings. Guest Services Manager Sharon Thompson says that in addition to safety orientation videos and tours of the houseboat for those in charge of the vessel, a lot of the safety outreach her team does is via radio throughout the day.
“While they’re out there, they’re constantly reminded. And that really helps. Just refreshing their memories. Like I said, I have the team doing announcements throughout the day, just making sure that everybody’s safe, and we tell them what to do. All precautionary things.” – Sharon Thompson, Waterway Houseboats
Not all guests on houseboats are required to complete safety orientations. Only the captain, co-captain, and the security card holder are oriented. From then on, these are the leaders of the group- and they sign legally binding contracts that make them responsible for the well-being of their party. Ultimately, Sharon says that “it’s up to the individual and the choices they make.”