5 Tips for Boating Safety

Three children sitting in the front of a sailboat wearing life jackets.

Wear a life jacket

Properly fitted life jackets can prevent drowning, the leading cause of boating-related deaths.

Don’t drink

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating incidents. Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. Boating under the influence of alcohol is as deadly as drinking and driving. Boating under the influence is illegal in all states. Boat operators and passengers are at risk from alcohol-related incidents. Accidents can occur at any time, including when a boat is docked, anchored or drifting.

Take a course

Many boating incidents are caused by operator error. Take a boating education course to learn rules for safe operation and navigation.

Check your boat

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.D. Power Squadron offers free safety checks for water vessels. Learn more at www.vesselsafetycheck.org.

Be prepared

Let people know where you are going and when you should return.

Carry signaling devices such as flares, whistles or a horn.

If a boating accident happens:

  • Immediately do a head count to make sure everyone is with the boat.
  • Make sure everyone is wearing life jackets and they stay with the boat. Leave the boat only if it is headed toward a hazard.
  • Remain calm and conserve energy.
  • Use signaling devices to seek attention and help.
  • If you lose the boat, use whatever items you can to help you keep afloat, such as an empty cooler for a floatation aid and empty soda bottles stuffed in your jacket.

Read more stories like this