Top 10 Safety Tips

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Mar 18, 2003

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Here is a top ten list of tips to help recreational boaters stay safe and reduce the number of preventable accidents that occur each year.
1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same.
Approximately 70 percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2008.(1)
2. Never drink alcohol while boating.
In 2008, alcohol was either a direct or indirect contributing factor in 21 percent of all boating fatalities. Stay sharp on the water by leaving the alcohol on dry land.(1)
3. Take a boating safety course.
More than 90 percent of all reported boating fatalities in 2008 occurred on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety course.(1) You may even qualify for a reduced insurance rate if you complete a safety course. Contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron chapter(2) or visit for more information on courses in your area.
4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers.
Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55 accounted for the highest rate of the total boating fatalities in 2008.(1)
5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules.
Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. Know and understand boating safety procedures and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.
6. Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a careful lookout.
Overall, operator inattention, carelessness/reckless operation, operator inexperience and excess speed were significant contributing factors in virtually all reported accidents.(1)
7. Check the weather forecast.
A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories. for more information.
9. Use a carbon monoxide detector.
All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide (CO), an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas that can kill in minutes. Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and avoid extended use of the transom area when engines are operating. Carbon monoxide poisoning caused 11 boating deaths in 2008.(1)
10. File a float plan.

(2) United States Power Squadron.
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