A major focus of this year’s National Drowning Prevention Week is a campaign to wear life-jackets.

Before taking his son Tyler and friend Ian out on the water in Dartmouth in his zodiac boat, David Pottier says he makes sure everyone wears a life-jacket. He says the device with a kill key attached is necessary in case the boat’s motor stops or anyone falls overboard.

“If they're outside on the edge of the boat, they have to have it on all the time. I won't let them out of here without it on,” says Pottier.

Pottier says he keeps dozens of life-jackets on board for friends and family members he hosts on his boat. He says kids especially need to make it a habit to wear the devices at all times.

Boater Ian Carver says he wears a life-jacket in case of emergencies.

“If I fall in, I don't know if I could get shocked or forget how to swim. If it's really cold, my feet start to numb and I can't swim, this can keep me above the water,” says Carver.

In Canada, there are about 500 preventable water-related deaths annually and up to 82 per cent involve not wearing a life-jacket.

Kayaker Jim Northrup says it doesn’t matter the size of the boat or body of water, for him safety comes first.

“With a life-jacket, you're floating, you're safe,” he says. “Even though you're in the water, you're probably going to make land somewhere. So life-jackets save a lot of lives.”

The Lifesaving Society urges beach goers and boaters to watch for the signs of drowning while on the water. Instead of waving their arms and calling for help, drowning victims are silent, and involuntarily press down on the sides of the water. The society recommends anyone going out on a boat this summer take a water safety course to learn the specific signs.

Law enforcement are also focused on wearing life-jackets while aboard boats this summer.

RCMP are reminding boaters they could be fined $200 for not wearing the device while on the water.