7 Boating Safety Tips for Recreational Boaters

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Jul 10, 2017

Lake, river, or ocean, make boating more fun than ever with these boating safety tips.


There isn't much that's more relaxing than spending a day on a boat. The gentle rocking, the fresh air, and the breezes coming off the water are pure magic. But mistakes on a boat can turn dangerous quickly. That's why it's critical to have a few basic boating safety tips in mind before you cast off. 

For that matter, the best boating safety tips or checklists start long before you leave shore. Whether you're captaining a sailing vessel, navigating a small motor boat, or just along for the ride, safety should be your top priority.


7 boating safety tips for an unforgettable day on the water

1. Check the weather

A sunny day can turn into a dangerous downpour quickly, and if you aren't prepared, your day can go from fun to foul in a matter of moments. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration keeps up-to-date forecast and radar information on their website. Weather Underground uses crowd-sourced data to offer hyper-local weather information. There are plenty of other sources, too, such as your local news station. Whatever you decide to use, make sure you have the right conditions for clear sailing.

2. Know what to do when the weather changes unexpectedly

Despite checking the weather ahead of time, there's always a chance you could run into inclement weather, be it fog, wind shifts, or a flash thunderstorm. The National Weather Service offers some boating safety tips if you do run into those conditions, but, of course, you're still better off checking the forecast in advance. 

3. Follow a checklist

No matter how often you go boating, it's hard to remember everything you need before you leave shore. Follow a checklist that includes both operational and safety procedures. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has a printable PDF checklist here to help you remember everything you need. 

Among those checklist items, some especially important points are about how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by making sure there is fresh air circulating in the cabin and your exhaust blowers are in good working order. Also check the radio and show at least one other person on board how to send a mayday.

4. Life jackets

Life jackets come in different configurations: some are designed for open ocean conditions, some for calm, fresh water, and others function as a flotation aid. Make sure life jackets and other flotation devices are quickly accessible and everyone on board knows where they are.

Some states require children to wear life jackets at all times, but the simple fact is that an accident can happen anytime, and a life jacket won't help you if you aren't wearing it, so it's ideal for everyone to wear a life jacket anytime they're on the boat.

5. Share your float plan

Make sure someone knows you're out and where you're heading. That can be a friend, family member, or the harbor master; the point is that someone has an idea of where you might be in the case of an emergency.

6. Learn to swim

Hopefully, you'll never end up needing to swim while you're out on a boat (unless you want to). But like it or not, you may find yourself in the water. Perhaps your boat drifted too far off shore and you need to swim out to recover it. Maybe your dingy got caught on an anchor line and you need to untangle it. In any case, learning to swim never hurts.

7. Use common sense

If you think about boating safety tips and boating rules, the one common thread is using common sense. Don’t take your boat out in a thunderstorm. Make sure each person on the boat has a personal flotation device. Don’t operate your boat while intoxicated. Your common sense can go a long way in keeping you and everyone else on board safe, and a safe boating trip is a fun boating trip.

Bonus tip! Boat insurance through Pekin Insurance will cover physical damage, liability, uninsured boaters, and much more. Get in touch today so you can hit the water tomorrow.

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