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Guide: 12 tips for summer boating safety

Here are some tips to help you boat safely this summer.

Sandrina Rodrigues

May 21, 2024, 8:50 AM

Updated 6 days ago

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National Safe Boating Week is always held the week before Memorial Day.
In 2020, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 5,265 accidents that involved 767 deaths, 3,191 injuries and approximately $62.5 million of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
Below are some tips from the National Safe Boating Council to help you boat safely this summer:

1. WEAR A LIFE JACKET

No matter what activity you have planned on the water, always remember to wear a life jacket
every time you are on the water. Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and
put on a stowed life jacket.
Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for your water activity
and fits properly. A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause different situational problems.
CLICK HERE for everything you need to know about life jackets and how to choose the right one.

2. KNOW STATE BOATING LAWS

Rules and laws can differ from state to state and violations can result in ticketing, fines or jail time.
Click the links below for boating information in your state.

3. TAKE BOATING SAFETY COURSE

Learn valuable tips that can help save your life in unexpected situations by taking a NASBLA
(National Association of Boating Law Administrators) approved boating safety course. Many courses are online, and will save you money on your boat insurance.
Click the links below for boating education in your state.

4. MAKE SURE YOUR BOAT IS PREPARED

There are many items that need to be checked and rechecked on any boat. Schedule a Vessel Safety Check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons before you hit the water.
Every Vessel Safety Check is conducted 100% free of charge.
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5. KNOW YOUR BOAT'S CAPACITY

If you have too much on your boat, the boat may become unstable and capsize.

6. CHECK THE WEATHER, INCLUDING THE WATER TEMPERATURE

Know the latest marine weather forecast prior to going out, and keep a regular check for changing conditions.
Check out the your local forecast report below:

7. DRESS PROPERLY

Always dress for the weather, wearing layers if cooler weather, and bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet.

8. FILE A FLOAT PLAN

File a float plan with someone you trust that includes details about the trip, boat, persons, towing or trailer vehicle, communication equipment, and emergency contacts. Find out more at floatplancentral.org.

9. FOLLOW NAVIGATION RULES

Know the “Rules of the Road” such as operator’s responsibility, maintaining a proper lookout, safe speed, crossing, meeting head-on, and overtaking situations. Know what’s going on around you at all times, and always travel at safe speeds for the environment.

10. DON'T DRINK AND BOAT

Alcohol has been listed as a leading factor in boating-related deaths. Find out more at operationdrywater.org.

11. CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it. Be sure to install and maintain a working CO detector, never block exhaust outlets, and always dock, beach, or anchor at least 20 feet away from the nearest boat that is running a generator or engine.

12. KEEP IN TOUCH

Communication devices can be the most important piece of emergency equipment on board a vessel, especially in case of emergency. Be sure to have at least two communication devices that work when wet, such as satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), VHF radios, and personal locator beacons (PLB). And, know how to use it.


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