Leave a float plan with a friend or relative.
Before you go out
- Plan your route as close to shore as can safely be navigated.
- Plan your route so emergency assistance can reach you if needed.
- Learn and practice safe boating procedures by taking a boater education course.
- Study marine charts and keep them on board your boat.
- Check the weather forecast before you get underway. Look for:
- Approaching fronts
- Expected winds and rainstorms
- Wind velocity and direction
- Fog possibilities
- Tidal conditions.
Don't mix alcohol and boating. More than 40% of fatal boating accidents involve alcohol use by the boat operator or passengers.
On the water
- Be aware of and avoid potential hazards including
- Wind, weather, and tidal conditions
- Waves and fast currents
- Shallows, stumps, and debris
- Other boat traffic
- Vessel failures
- Passengers' medical conditions.
- Stay within protected coastlines with surf under 1 foot.
- Wear protective clothing and expect to get wet. Have extra jacket or space blanket on board. Wear a wet suit to prevent hypothermia.
- Wear a life jacket that's the proper size and fit. Most fatalities occur when someone falls overboard or the boat capsizes. Nine out of ten people who drown were not wearing life jackets.
- Follow navigation rules. Know where your danger zone is. Stay on the correct side of the waterway.
- Don't overload your boat with people or equipment.
- Maintain a safe speed for conditions. When driving a large vessel, slow down when passing smaller boats in narrow channels.
- Never stand in or on a vessel that is underway, and always use a handhold when moving about in or on any vessel.
Waterskiing, wakeboarding, and jet skiing
- Ski/board in a counter-clockwise direction and only in open areas with little or no boat traffic.
- When operating a jet ski, stay away from larger boats and don't try jumping their wakes.
- A jet ski is a Class A motorboat and is bound by the same rules as other vessels on the water.