30 Safe Boating Tips

  1. Have a personal floatation device (PFD) for each occupant (we called these ‘life jackets’ in the olden days!)
  2. Wear a PFD at all times while aboard.
  3. If children are aboard, have a properly fitted PFD for them.
  4. Boats over 16 ft. in length must have a throwable life saving device such as a Coast Guard approved seat cushion  in addition to a PFD for each occupant.
  5. Have a fire extinguisher aboard and know how to use it.
  6. Make certain navigational lights are functioning properly and comply with local and federal regulations.
  7. Be weather wise and aware of your surroundings.
  8. Become familiar with local regulations.
  9. If boating on the Mississippi River or Great Lakes, become familiar with federal regulations.
  10. Have a float plan and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
  11. Ventilate after refueling and before starting engine. SNIFF for fumes. Fuel fumes are heavier than air, so they  sink to the lowest points in the boat, i.e. your bilge and cabin. Open all hatches.
  12. Learn proper anchoring techniques.
  13. Never consume alcohol or use drugs.
  14. Have at least one person on board that can operate the boat safely and properly if the captain becomes incapacitated.
  15. Have current registration.
  16. Have proper and current insurance.
  17. Practice launching techniques before you get to the ramp on a busy day.
  18. Practice docking techniques.
  19. Pay attention to no wake zones.
  20. Become familiar with navigational buoys.
  21. Have a navigational chart aboard.
  22. Have plenty of fuel to get to and from your destination – a rule of thumb is to have 1/3 to get
    to the destination, 1/3 to return, and 1/3 in case of emergency.
  23. If boat is equipped with a radio, learn how to use it and learn the proper etiquette of radio use.  Do you know what PAN PAN indicates?
  24. Learn how to tie a knot or better yet learn how to tie proper knots for mooring, docking, anchoring, rafting up with other boats, etc.
  25. Have a signaling device (sound such as a whistle or horn) visual such as flags or flares)
  26. Have a first aid kit aboard
  27. Know your environment – watch out for navigational hazards and other watercraft.
  28. Do not use your body as a fender-bumper.
  29. Remove harmful exotic plant and animal species from the boat and trailer after leaving the body of water.
  30. Be courteous.

The above tips may help you have a safe and happy boating season. They are by no means comprehensive.

Believe it or not, falling overboard from a boat is the  number one reason for death on or near the water. And alcohol is the number one contributing factor. Not wearing a life jacket is a death sentence, as the second most prominent reason for a fatality on the water is not  wearing the PFD. Hypothermia (losing body temperature due to the cold water), is the third largest cause of death in watersports.