Boating Safety

General Tips

  • Each person on board should wear a life jacket or other personal flotation device.
  • Do not overload the boat.
  • Check the capacity plate and never exceed the number of people you can safely have aboard.
  • Always check the weather and stay on shore if bad weather occurs or is expected.
  • Tell a responsible person where you are going and when you will return.
  • Keep a survival kit with you including matches, in a waterproof container.
  • If your boat capsizes, stay with it. If the boat is still afloat, climb on top. You are more likely to survive if you are not in the water.
  • Dress for the weather.
  • Take a compass and maps to prevent getting lost.
  • Carry a flashlight.

During the average day, the U.S Coast Guard will save 14 lives.

Avoid Boat Fires

Always carry fully charged fire extinguishers aboard your boat. Most boat fires can be put out rapidly if you act immediately. To avoid most boat fires:

  • Clean bilges often and maintain proper gear stowage.
  • Make sure short-tie cables are properly connected.
  • Place oily rags in coverage trash cans or dispose of them onshore.
  • Store propane fuel for stoves in a secure area.

Never use water on fires started electrically, by gasoline, oil or grease. Water will spread a gasoline fire. Water should only be used to extinguish burning wood, mattresses, rags, rubbish and alcohol. If a fire breaks out, slow or stop the boat. Keep the fire downwind. If the motor catches fire, shut off the fuel supply immediately.

National Safe Boating Council Tips

  • Do wear a life jacket - they float, you do not.
  • Do not mix alcohol and boating.
  • Do observe the nautical rules-of-the-road.
  • Do check the weather forecast before getting underway.
  • Do not overload your boat.
  • Do keep a good lookout.
  • Use Common Sense

Chart a safe course towards the fun and excitement of recreational boating.

National Weather Service Warning Examples

  • Small Craft Advisory - To alert mariners to sustained weather and sea conditions, either present or forecast, that might be hazardous to small boats. The threshold conditions for this advisory are usually 18 knots of wind or hazardous wave conditions.
  • Gale Warning - To indicate winds within the range of 34 to 47 knots; or tropical storms 34 to 63 knots.
  • Storm Warning - To indicate that winds 48 knots and above, no matter how high the speed.
  • Hurricane Warning - Issued only in connection with a hurricane to indicate that winds are 64 knots and above are expected.
  • Hurricane Watch - This announcement is not a warning, rather it indicates that the hurricane is near enough that everyone in the area covered by the "Watch" should listen to their radios for subsequent advisories and be ready to take precautionary action in case hurricane warnings are issued.
  • Special Marine Warning - Issued whenever a severe local storm or strong wind of brief duration is imminent and is not covered by existing warnings or advisories. Boaters will be able to receive these special warnings by keeping tuned to a NOAA Weather Station or to a Coast Guard and commercial radio stations that transmit marine weather information.