First Concern

Regardless of how many years you've been boating, safety must be your first concern.

Be Weather Wise. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can be indicators that a storm is approaching. Be attune to local weather and keep a portable radio to regularly check weather reports.

Bring extra gear you may need. Keep on board a flashlight, extra batteries, matches, a map of where you are, flares, sun tan lotion, first aid kit and sunglasses. Put things that need to be protected in a watertight pouch or a container that floats.

Use this handy checklist to verify that you have the proper safety equipment and have checked your boat systems for operational safety. (See your local United States Coast Guard Auxiliary for more details of the safety features listed below.)


Tell someone: where you're going, who is with you and how long you'll be away. Then get in the habit of checking your boat, equipment, boat balance, engine and fuel supply before leaving.

Ventilate after fueling. Open hatches, run blower and most importantly, carefully sniff for gasoline fumes in the fuel and engine areas before starting your engine.

Keep fishing and hunting gear clean and well-packed. A loose fish hook can cause a lot of pain and ruin a great outing. Bring an extra length of line to secure boat or equipment.

When changing seats or moving about, stay low and near center line of a small boat.

Wear a personal flotation device (Life jacket).

Be ready for trouble when a powerboat passes you in a narrow channel. As the lead boat, which always has the right of way, stay on your side of the channel and maintain a steady speed so that the overtaking vessel can pass you safely. Use your radio to discuss this with the passing boat.

Anchor from bow, not stern. Use anchor line length at least five times longer than water depth.

Take a boat safety class. As an extra benefit, you may earn lower boat insurance costs. For information about boating classes, call 1-800-336-BOAT.

Boating and Alcohol

Over 1,000 people die in boating accidents every year. Nine out of ten of them drown. About half those deaths involve alcohol. It's a fact, too, that 50 percent of men who drown have their fly unzipped! Four hours of exposure to powerboat noise, vibration, sun, glare, wind and motion produces a kind of "boater's hypnosis." This effect may slow a person's reaction time to that caused by alcohol consumption. Adding alcohol to this sun exposure intensifies the effects.

Operating a vessel while intoxicated became a specific federal offense effective January 13, 1988. The final rule set standards for determining when an individual is intoxicated. If the blood alcohol content is .10 percent (.08 percent in some states) or higher for operators of recreational vessels being used only for pleasure, violators are subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 or criminal penalty not to exceed $5,000, one year imprisonment or both.

Take Time to Be Safe




A boat operator is responsible for any damage to persons or property caused by his wake!!!