Did you know that over 5,000 boating accidents occur yearly in the United States? The truth is that a lot of boating incidents are preventable. With the right boating safety knowledge, your experience on the water will be positive.

How can you keep yourself and your passengers safe on a boat? Keep reading to find out.

1. Have a Boat Safety Kit

Every boat owner should have a boat safety kit on board every time they go out on the water. Emergencies are unpredictable so you’ll have to stay prepared for any situation.

These are some essential items to keep inside your safety kit:

  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Bucket
  • Whistle
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Life jackets

By law, every boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person on board. Some states require that children wear life jackets at all times.

2. Check for Harmful Fumes

When you refuel your boat, be on the prow for the smell of fumes. Open all of the hatches to make things easier. If you do smell something out of the ordinary, don’t start the engine.

Carbon monoxide can form around a boat causing unconsciousness to you and your guests. Fumes may accumulate in these places:

  • Enclosed spaces
  • Blocked exhaust outlets
  • Inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures
  • Nearby boats

You may also smell fumes if your engine is idling, stopped, or running at a low speed.

3. Use Common Sense on the Water

When you are on the water, you need to follow basic rules to keep yourself and others safe. Safe boating is not much different than safe driving on the road.

Using common sense means operating at safe speeds, staying alert at all times, and ensuring passengers stay within the boat’s railings.

Always follow the capacity restriction set by your boat’s manufacturer. Overloading a boat with equipment or passengers can cause unbalance.

4. Follow Docking Procedures

Docking can be a challenge, especially if the wind is harsh. Your type of boat will also affect how difficult it is to dock.

As you approach the shore or dock, make sure your bumpers are out to prevent boat damage. Reduce your speed and check that the docking lines are secured.

If the wind is blowing your vessel away from the shore, approach the dock at an angle to compensate for it.

5. Take a Boating Safety Course

One of the best boating safety tips is to take a course because boating accidents are often caused by operator error.

There are several online courses, some even free, that you can take to gain more knowledge when on the water. You can find a list of online and in-person courses for boating safety through the U.S. Coast Guard Department.

Ready to Go Boating?

After following the boating safety tips listed in this guide, you should be ready to have an amazing boating experience. All you need now is a boat to get out on the water.

For buying advice, check out the rest of our site. If you’re ready to shop, look into these boats for sale.