Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Plan your Float: Boating Safety Tips from the Coast Guard

Image of Military personnel conducting boating safety patrols. Click to open a larger version of the image. Personnel from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor conduct boating safety patrols off of Chicago's waterfront (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard District 9).

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Plenty of people are out on the water this summer, with record heat bearing down. For those operating boats - whether you're new to boating or experienced, out on the ocean, in lakes, or on rivers - there are some basic safety tips to keep in mind.

A "Float Plan" is the first thing recommended by Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Gregory Schell, at the District 9 Great Lakes Region in Cleveland, Ohio.

"We encourage all recreational boaters to file a Float Plan, a form that's left with a trusted source on shore," Schell said. "It has identifying information - your departure time, your destination, return time, description of the vessel. In case you're overdue, all that information can be sent to the rescue agency and really jump-start the search and rescue process."

On the Water

Don't drink and boat. Alcohol is the leading known factor in fatal boating accidents. USCG and local law enforcement officials keep sharp eyes out for those tipping a beer or driving erratically while out on the water. If your blood alcohol level is at .08 or higher, you'll be arrested, lose your license, a lot of money, and maybe your rank.

Wear a life jacket. The Coast Guard recommends everyone onboard wear one at all times, just like a car safety belt. And by law, on an underway vessel, kids under 13 must wear an appropriate USCG-approved wearable life jacket.

Check out the USCG's official boating safety web site.

Military personnel checking on-board safety equipment
A Coast Guard boatswain's mate stationed in Honolulu informs mariners that he and his boarding team will conduct a safety check off the coast of Waianae, Oahu in February 2012. Boarding team members conduct recreational boating safety checks looking for compliance with recreational safety regulations. Team members check credentials, on-board safety equipment such as flares and fire extinguishers, and life jackets (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard District 14).

Your Safety Checklist

  • Leave a Float Plan ashore with a trusted source.
  • Take a boating safety course.
  • Request a free vessel safety check from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
  • Do not drink and boat.
  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Wear sunscreen and frequently reapply.
  • Hydrate: always carry plenty of clean, cool water.
  • Download the USCG Boating Safety app for both veteran and inexperienced boaters.
  • Be prepared and responsible: Check and consistently re-check weather forecasts, as it can change quickly on water. Review nautical charts - know where navigation markers are, be aware of areas of shallow water and areas that are congested with other boats and swimmers.
  • Find a paddling safety course for kids, and other public education classes, via the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Just type in your zip code here.
  • Be attentive. Operator inexperience and inattention are other leading contributors to boating accidents.
  • Bring extra life jackets. Federal law says there must be one life jacket for everyone onboard.
  • Be aware of other boaters. Just because you can see them doesn't mean they see you.
  • Carry flares and fire extinguishers, and make sure they are operational before getting underway.

You also may be interested in...

Extreme Heat: Heat-Related Illness

Infographic
8/20/2021
Extreme Heat: Heat-Related Illness

Heat-related illnesses can be serious. Make sure you know how hot is too hot!

Recommended Content:

Extreme Heat | Summer Safety

Safety Briefs: Don't be Boring and Use Real Examples

Article
7/21/2021
Marines receiving a safety brief

Two Marines share tips on how to make routine safety briefs both interesting and engaging.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Summer Water Safety Means: Know your Limitations

Article
7/16/2021
Military personnel participating in a swim call

Know your swimming rules and dangers

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Extreme Heat: Safety Tips for Heat-Related Illness

Infographic
7/16/2021
Extreme Heat: Safety Tips for Heat-Related Illness

Are you at higher risk for heat-related illness? Heat-related health problems are preventable, but some factors put you at increased risk for illness, such as exhaustion or heat stroke. Follow these tips.

Recommended Content:

Extreme Heat | Summer Safety

Summer Safety 2021

Photo
7/15/2021
Summer Safety 2021

Summer days can be such fun, if done safely (Photo by: Tommie Horton, 78th Air Base Wing).

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Summer Safety Tips

Video
7/15/2021
Summer Safety Tips

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Old-School Summer Safety Risks: Sun, Water, Insects and Alcohol

Article
7/15/2021
Children sitting by the pool

A preventive medicine doctor talks about an array of summer-related safety concerns.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Hydration

Infographic
7/14/2021
Hydration

Stay Hydrated - Carry a water bottle, choose water over sugary drink & add fruit to water

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety Toolkit | Summer Safety

Child Safety - Extreme Heat

Infographic
7/12/2021
Child Safety - Extreme Heat

Hello, summer! Summer may be the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors with your children. However, when temperatures are more hot or humid than normal, take extra precautions. Follow these tips.

Recommended Content:

Extreme Heat | Summer Safety

Pet Safety - Extreme Heat

Infographic
7/12/2021
Pet Safety - Extreme Heat

Extreme heat can also affect your pets. Extreme heat is when temperatures are much hotter or humid than normal. Follow these tips.

Recommended Content:

Extreme Heat | Summer Safety

MHS and MOS the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Video
7/12/2021
MHS and MOS the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

MHS and Military OneSource To Your Health: Summer Safety Discussion with Lt. Col. Christine Smetana of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

MHS and MOS Town Hall To Your Health Summer Safety

Article
7/12/2021
Picture of Lt. Col. Christine Smetana

MHS and Military OneSource: To Your Health: Summer Safety Discussion with Lt. Col. Christine Smetana of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety

Avoid summertime food poisoning with these easy tips

Article
7/9/2021
Someone cooking on a grill

Food safety in the summer is just as important as sunscreen

Recommended Content:

Nutritional Fitness | Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Warning: Fireworks Are Dangerous (and Can Be Traumatic for Some)

Article
7/2/2021
Picture of fireworks

Fireworks safety is no joke. Keep children away and watch for duds.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit

Summer Safety

Video
6/30/2021
Summer Safety

Enjoying summer safely - like drinking plenty of water, wearing sunscreen, and wearing a life jacket around water - is the best way to enjoy summer.

Recommended Content:

Summer Safety | Summer Safety Toolkit
<< < 1 2 3 4 5 > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 5

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.