With summer coming, boaters are keen to get going. But you could be heading into troubled waters if you haven't taken the time to get your boat ship shape.

"People get on the water and by that time it's too late," John Johnstone with the Department of Transportation's boating safety office said.

Johnstone says a boat can deteriorate over winter. Water and condensation can affect the fuel and electrical systems so you can't assume because it was running fine in the fall it's ready to go now.

"We'd like to see people take more time to do proper checks of all their systems and all the equipment on board before they head out this time of year," John said.

Johnstone recommends boaters check the dates on their flares. They legally expire four years from the date of manufacture. Even if they are too old to be legal, keep them on board as extras because they may still work in an emergency.

It is also advisable to get a fire extinguisher that is larger than the minimum size so that you have more fire fighting capability. And have it inspected and recharged per manufacturer's instructions. Shake chemical extinguishers vigorously upside down once a month because the dry chemical can sink to the bottom and harden making the extinguisher useless.

A VHF radio is not mandatory but it's really a must on coastal waters. It can bring aid faster than a cell phone but you need to get a license to operate one.

Believe it or not, running out of gas makes up more than half the search and rescue cases. More than half! So remember the one-third-fuel rule:

"You should have a third for the way out, a third for the way back and a third in reserve," John said.

You need to know exactly how much fuel your boat burns per hour based on your engine's RPMs to accurately predict how much fuel you are using. Never rely on a fuel gauge.

"A lot of times you will see boats get very inefficient over 3500 RPMs so you may burn a lot more gas than you expect all of a sudden," Johnstone said.

Just like car owners, power boaters are concerned about saving fuel these days too. The easiest things to do are slow down and go at your most efficient speed, use trim tabs properly, keep your hull clean, engine tuned up and ensure you have the right propeller.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen