BlogMay 2016

8 Safe Boating Tips That Could Save Your Life

8 Safe Boating Tips That Could Save Your Life

By Debbie Hanson

May 16, 2016

Safe boating saves lives. Do you practice safe boating when on the water? Follow these boating safety guidelines to make sure your trips are enjoyable ones.

Safe boating should be the number one priority of every boater on the water, and safe boating includes consistent wear of a proper fitting life jacket. Whether you’re going fishing or just heading out for a leisurely ride on the boat, there’s never an excuse not to wear a life jacket. You can still have a great experience on the water while choosing to wear a life jacket and practicing responsible boating.

National Safe Boating Week, held from May 21-27, 2016, is the official launch of the 2016 North American Safe Boating Campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes safe and responsible boating and the importance of voluntary, consistent life jacket wear by recreational boaters through the national theme, Wear It!

Did you know that, according to recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of all boating fatalities in 2014? Of those, 84 percent were reported as not wearing their life jackets, which means it's possible that these lives could have been saved with proper life jacket use.

Safe Boating Tips To Follow

1. Schedule a free vessel safety check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons to make sure all of your emergency equipment is on board and in working order.

2. Make sure everyone on board wears a properly fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is appropriate for the type of water activity involved.

3. Know the marine weather forecast and dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.

4. File a float plan with someone you trust that includes details about your boat trip and emergency contacts.

5. Follow boating navigation rules, such as maintaining a proper lookout and safe speed.

6. Never boat under the influence. Alcohol is responsible for 21 percent of boating deaths.

7. Cell phones, satellite phones, emergency position radio beacons, VHF radios and personal locator beacons can all contribute in an emergency. Stay in touch!

8. If you fall into the water, don't panic. Stay afloat with the help of your life jacket, regain control of your breathing, keep your head above water in vision of rescuers, and stay with the boat if possible.

The Wear It! theme unites the efforts of a wide variety of boating safety advocates, including the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and Canadian Safe Boating Council with the National Safe Boating Council. It is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. Follow Wear It! on Twitter at @boatingcampaign, like on Facebook at, and share your safe boating story at
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.