Boat Safety: Tips, Quotes and Resources

Getting out onto the open water can be one of the most freeing experiences imaginable, but it also comes along with the responsibility of keeping yourself, boat, and passengers safe. In this article we will go over the basic safety procedures for pre-departure, while on the water, and upon return.

General Boat Safety Tips

Long before you head for the water, consider taking a CPR course as well as a boating safety course.

There are basic rules that everyone, including passengers, should follow when aboard a boat:

  • Wear your life jacket each and every time you are on the water. This applies to everyone on the boat, even seasoned swimmers.
  • Make sure that life jackets fit each person and that they are secured properly.
  • Avoid bringing alcohol on your trip or consuming it beforehand.
  • If you will be navigating, make sure that you know the nautical rules such as what to do when in a sea channel.
  • Learn how to swim.
  • Use your common sense.
  • Always have an assistant to take over if necessary and to help with tasks.
  • Maintain your safety equipment and have the right equipment for the situation.
  • Make sure that everyone on board knows the safety rules before you start your journey.
  • Check all equipment, including the boat, for wear or damage.

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Safety Checklist

Pre-Departure

Before you leave, make sure to tell someone where you are planning to go and when you plan to return. In addition to that, follow these rules to ensure a safe trip:

  • Avoid overloading the boat. Make sure that weight is properly distributed to avoid capsizing.
  • Make sure that you have a working fire extinguisher.
  • Check your boat lights to verify that they are working.
  • Check the weather, tide charts, and relevant water conditions.
  • Follow a safety check-list so that you do not miss anything.
  • Keep an eye on the water and weather. Conditions can change quickly.

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While on the Water

  • Keep your life jacket on.
  • Follow general safety rules as well as nautical rules.
  • Use a leash when the conditions are bad.
  • Stay sober. The majority of accidents occur due to human error.
  • Stay clear of boat propellers.
  • Always make sure that your communication equipment is functioning.

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When Returning

  • Return to shore at a safe low-wake speed.
  • Check all gear and the boat for damage.
  • Check back in to let people know that you have arrived safely.
  • Make sure that your boat is securely anchored and tethered if you are leaving it in the water.

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Emergency Preparedness

It Is important to assess hazards and come up with emergency response plans for various situations. On a boat, you should be fully prepared to deal with fires as well as spills. Make sure that everyone who will be on the boat, but especially the crew, is fully trained in these procedures to avoid confusion or panic in the case of an emergency. If you are utilizing your boat for commercial use, it is also vital to maintain material safety data sheets. Even non-commercial boaters can benefit from this added layer of preparedness.

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Boating Sports Safety

Water skiing, wakeboarding, knee-boarding, inner tubing, and swimming can be great ways to enjoy your time on the water. With a few simple precautions, you can ensure that it is likely to be a safe experience.

  • Make sure to wear your life jacket.
  • Have your observer, skier, and boat pilot work as a team.
  • Follow speed limits.
  • Avoid reckless driving.
  • Avoid boating sports during sunrise and sunset when visibility is low.
  • Stay alert and aware of any objects or other people in the water.
  • Wear a wetsuit when weather and water temperatures are cooler.

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Safety Consideration for Kids

Introducing kids to the water is a great way to spend the day as the family and get them out into the outdoors. Before they go out on a boat, swimming and water safety lessons are vital. Shortly before going on a boat, teach them the importance of boat safety including not running on the deck and that they should avoid sitting on the edge of a boat or distracting the crew. Make sure that they have a life vest that is designed for children, that they know how to secure it, and that it fits snuggly. Always make sure that there is an adult on board to watch the children and redirect them if necessary. Last but not least, don’t forget the sunscreen!

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Boat Safety Quotes and Common Sayings

Here are some of our favorite seafaring safety quotes and sayings. Try coming up with a few of your own!

“A danger foreseen is half avoided.”

“Accidents hurt - safety doesn't.”

“If you don't know what is going to happen, there is no way to stop it. Plan ahead for safety.”

“Bad work, bad work! Mr. Starbuck,” said Stubb, regarding the wreck, “but the sea will have its way. Stubb, for one, can’t fight it. You see, Mr. Starbuck, a wave has such a great long start before it leaps, all round the world it runs, and then comes the spring! But as for me, all the start I have to meet it, is just across the deck here. But never mind; it’s all in fun: so the old song says.”