7 Boating Safety Tips You Need to Know Before Hitting the Water

Boat safety tips, rules, laws and regulations

A boat is an awesome addition to any home. Boating season is just around the corner and owing a boat means you can enjoy the open waters and beautiful weather as you please. There's a never-ending list of reasons why having your own boat is beneficial, but owning one doesn't come free of concerns. 

You'll need to know all the important boating safety tips before you head out on the water. Just like owning a car, there are things you need to check on the boat itself to ensure it's safe to transport you and things to keep in mind while on the boat to ensure everyone's safety.

If you're new to boating and want to prepare for the boating season in the safest way possible, then continue reading below. It's time to check out these 7 boating safety tips you need to be aware of before exploring the waters!

1. Create a Checklist

You should have a written-out checklist made for each time you prepare to take the boat out. This list should include all of your safety gear, maintenance check, and miscellaneous items such as the cooler, beach or water toys, and more. Go over this checklist the night before you take the boat out and the morning of. Here is a sailing prep checklist we put together.

Your boat should have proper life jackets on board and enough for each person to have one. This is the law. Flares, whistles, fire extinguishers, and other essential safety items required by law should be on your boat each time you use it.

Check for regular maintenance issues as well before heading out to ensure your boat is in excellent condition. 

What is the required boating safety equipment

2. Take a Boating Course

If you're new to boating, then it might be a good idea to take a boating safety course. Most courses are offered both in-person and online. They're fairly inexpensive and worth the knowledge you'll gain from them.

This is the perfect way to learn about all of the boating rules to follow while out on the water. It's essential for new boaters, but it can be beneficial as a refresher for experienced boaters as well. Even if you boated your whole life a boating course is worthwhile.

During the course, be sure to take notes and write anything down that you believe you'll need to remember. 

3. Have a Free Vessel Check Done

Free Vessel checks are offered by both the United States Power Squadrons and the United States Coast Gaurd. All you'll need to do is fill out a form to request to have your boat safety checked. The check will look for all of the required safety equipment. 

They'll ensure that you have everything you need and that everything is in good working order. There's no penalty against you if something isn't up to par. Instead, you'll be made aware of the issue, which you can then fix before taking the boat out. 

Remember, this is all done with yours and your passengers' safety in mind. 

What weather should you not go boating in

4. Check the Weather

It's a good idea to check the weather the night before planning to take the boat out, and the morning of. Weather can change at the last minute, so it's something you need to keep up with. Never wake up and bring the boat to the water without checking the weather conditions.

Certain weather conditions can create horrible boating conditions. Even if the morning seems like it'll be a nice day, you don't want to get caught out on the water when a thunderstorm starts to roll in. Check the weather for the entire day and be sure it's safe to head out before doing so.  Here are 6 most common causes of boating problems.

5. Follow All Rules

There are certain rules on the road you have to follow when driving a car. The same is true for when on the boat. There are speed limits on the waters, proper documents to have onboard,  and other rules that you'll need to follow depending on where you're at.

As the captain, you should know what each sign and symbol means, such as a "no wake zone." Failure to follow the rules of the water will result in a ticket, so it's best to stick to the law. These laws are also set in place to ensure everyone's safety. 

Is it safe to drink and drive a boat

6. Don't Drink Alcohol 

Taking the boat out for the day most likely includes some partying, which is acceptable but to an extent. Bring your speakers and playlist, your water sports equipment, beach toys, and cooler with plenty of drinks and snacks.

Your passengers are allowed to have fun and drink, but as the captain, you need to refrain from drinking alcohol. Each passenger's life is in your hands while on your boat, and they're your responsibility. Keep them safe by staying sober. 

You should also control how much alcohol is being consumed by your passengers as you don't want someone to become too impaired while on the water. Accidents can happen and being intoxicated while surrounded by a body of water isn't the best scenario. 

7. Know Overboard Protocol 

If someone were to fall overboard, then you need to know the proper overboard protocol. When someone falls into the water, you need to turn the boat off to shut the propellers off. If no one is left on the boat to do so, then direct everyone to swim away from the boat. 

The next step is to use your life jackets and remain calm.

Use These Boating Safety Tips on Your Next Boating Adventure!

These boating safety tips will keep you and all your passengers safe on each boating trip you embark on. Don't forget them and remember to let someone know the day, time, and location of your boating trip in case of an emergency.

Once your boat is checked and safe, be sure to keep it clean and well-maintained. Click here to explore boating cleaning products you can trust!