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Boating Safety - Doing Your Part

Boat US Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program available in all 50 states provides FREE and easy access to appropriate & properly sized Life jackets!

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 Although "Safety" is an attitude rather than a set of rules, most boating fatalities, serious injuries or major losses can be prevented by following simple Guidelines, Practices & Tips!


  1. Never Drink & Boat  -  Drinking alcohol impairs judgment, slows reaction times, reduces physical agility & diminish coordination which do not go well with unpredictable & hostile environment that often exists on large bodies of water.
  2. Wear a Life Jacket  -  It could make the difference between life & death.  Life jackets could have saved 85% of victims who drowned in boating accident.  States require children to wear a life jacket when underway & not inside a closed cabin.  For children less than 4 years old, Maryland requires additional safety features.
  3. Properly Equip Life Jackets  -  Under conditions of darkness, poor visibility, rough seas or stormy weather; a whistle, signal mirror, flashlight, strobe light, flares, knife or dye marker attached to a Life jacket could make the difference between life & death.  An Emergency Locator Beacon or portable waterproof VHF radio attached to vessel operators Life jacket is a wise investment & best practice.
  4. Invest in a VHF Radio  -  Keep it near helm & set to Channel 16 so important information being broadcast can be monitored & it is ready to use in an emergency.   Make sure everyone knows when & how to use the radio since it can make the difference between a minor & major loss (injuries) or even life & death in an emergency.
  5. Be Weather Wise  -  Check weather before heading out & then remain alert to changes in sky, wind & water conditions throughout day.  Use your VHF Radio to regularly check latest weather forecasts (especially after 12:00 PM during summer months).  Immediately head to shore at first signs of deteriorating weather conditions.
  6. Properly Equip & Maintain Vessel  -  to reduce probability of problems occurring & be prepared to deal with them when they do occur.  Examine your own vessel or get a Free Vessel Safety Check at beginning of each boating season to ensure critical equipment & systems are in good working order & then use a checklist (see item 8.) before each outing to verify their ongoing operational status.
  7. File a Float Plan  -  Let family or friends know where you’re going, how you plan to get there, how many people will be on-board, when you expect to return, how to contact you & what your vessel looks like (type, size, color, description, name & hailing port).
  8. Use a Safety Checklist  -  As operator of a watercraft, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of the vessel as well as everyone on board, so be prepared to deal with the unexpected by properly equipping & maintaining your vessel, using a pre-underway checklist before each outing, regularly reviewing these guidelines & established good practices & tips with family members, friends & guests.
  9. Take a Boating Course  -  Be sure to check state & local requirements.   USCG recommends everyone take a basic boating safety course & boat owners/operators attend a safety refresher or more advanced course at least once every three years to help maintain & improve your boating knowledge / skills.  So why not team-up with family, friends, neighbors or colleagues to attend a class.