Basic Water Safety Rules
While there may be different boating and water safety tips that apply to different situations, there are general safety rules to remember every time you are on a boating or fishing trip. Following these basic boating safety tips or rules should become a habit.
- Always wear a properly fitting PFD (life jacket) that has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard while on a boat, while around open bodies of water, and when participating in water sports. Life jackets prevent drowning and save lives.
- Before leaving the dock, make sure you have all of the required boating safety equipment on board. If you're unsure about the equipment you are required to have, you can request a free vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons.
- Learn the boating rules of the road, also known as navigation rules. There are both online and classroom courses you can take to learn these boating basics.
- Pay close attention to the weather. Use a marine radio to monitor weather conditions at all times. Sudden shifts in wind direction, dark clouds, and choppy water can mean foul weather is approaching. In the event of foul weather, take safe and immediate steps to get off the water.
- Never use alcohol or drugs before or during boat operation. Alcohol and drugs affect judgment, vision, balance and coordination.
- Make sure that your boating safety routine includes a float plan. Always leave accurate information with a trusted friend or family member regarding your intended destination and when you plan to return.
- Know what your boat's maximum capacity limit is and adhere to it. Overloading your boat can increase the risk of capsizing or swamping. When it comes to fishing gear, bring on board only what you need.
- Learn how to swim if you don't know how. Even if you do, it won't hurt to take a refresher course to review the basics.
The days leading up to a family fishing or boating trip are often filled with plenty of excitement and anticipation. For this reason, you may find it helpful to create a boat safety checklist or water safety checklist that you can review before each trip.