Practice Boat Safety while having Fun on the Water
Boating can be a lot of fun or can turn tragic. Always practice boat safety while on the water. Take a boat safety course to learn more about safe practices to use while boating. Another good boat safety tip is to always wear a life jacket. Boat safety applies if you are fishing, skiing, or just enjoying time with family and friends. Always follow boat safety rules.
Common causes of tragic watercraft crashes that often cause death by drowning are:
- Operator Inexperience
- Navigation Rules Violation
- Restricted Vision
- Sharp Turn
- Failure to Vent
- Inadequate navigation lights
A Boat Safety Checklist
There are several Boat Safety Tips you need to follow to ensure safety for you and your passengers.
Follow These Boat Safety Tips:
- For Boat Safety, do not use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol’s effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise, and vibration. Alcohol was a leading factor in 17% of boating deaths.
- For Boat Safety, have the right safety equipment. Have a Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person onboard. More than 90% of boat fatalities related to drowning involved victims not wearing life jackets. Boat safety rules may require children under 13 to always wear a floatation device. It is recommended that everyone wear their life jackets while on the water. One throwable device for any boat 16 feet and longer is needed.
- For Boat Safety, have proper lighting. The boat should have operable boat lights to meet boat safety standards. Boat safety requires keeping emergency supplies available.
- For Boat Safety, have emergency supplies on hand. Carry a whistle or horn, visual distress signals, fire extinguisher, tools and first aid kit.
- For boat safety, be aware of the weather. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes, and choppy water can mean a storm. Bring a weather radio for weather updates.
- For boat safety, always let others know where you plan to be and when you plan to return. If you don’t return as expected, become stranded or injured, someone will know where to look for you.
- For boat safety, before starting out open all the hatches and run the blower after you refuel. Sniff for fumes before starting the engine. If you smell fumes, do not start the engine for boat safety.
- For boat safety, abide by the boat’s capacity plate. Overloading a boat with gear or passengers will make the boat unstable and increase the risk of capsizing.
- For boat safety, maintain a slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal distance. Wait until you pass the designated buoys before throttling up.
- For boat safety, do not allow passengers to ride on gunwales, seatbacks or outside of protective railings. A sudden turn, stop or start could cause a fall overboard.
- For boat safety, practice special cold water precautions. Cold water temperatures reduce your margin for error on the water. If you fall in, you may have as little as two minutes before losing your ability to move your muscles and return to the boat.
- For boat safety, make sure all of your gear is in good condition and ready for use. Replace anything that may be past its expiration date. Have equipment serviced.
- For boat safety, wear a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes against sun glare. The wrong turn or sharp turn can make a difference between life and serious injury or death.
- For boat safety, designate someone familiar with all aspects of your boat on board. If you somehow become incapacitated, this person will be able to ensure a safe trip back.
USCG Auxiliary Boat Safety Courses
There are several courses available that teach boat safety. Boat safety courses can make boating more fun and safer for you, your passengers, and other boaters on the water.
Some Boat safety courses include:
- First Aid
- Small Engine Repair
- Safe Boating
Contact your local Coast Guard for more information on boat safety courses. Learn the right emergency protocol for boat safety.
If an emergency does occur, stay calm and ensure everyone on board is wearing a life jacket. Follow the boat safety procedure and use the radio to call for help.