As the weather gets warmer people love to take their boats out to soak in the rays, swim, fish and enjoy everything the water has to offer.

But even though it’s one of the most fun things to do in the summer, it can also be deadly for you or your loved ones if you don’t keep yourselves safe.


So before you cast off, make sure you know and follow these important safety tips.

Keep Afloat and Know How to Swim

Drowning is the number one cause of all boating related deaths.

Anyone going on a boat needs to be aware of the dangers and take all necessary precautions to avoid going overboard and possibly drowning.

Make sure that everyone on your vessel has a lifejacket on or close by at all times, and make sure you have extras for both adults and children.

Children under the age of six must always wear a lifejacket.

The next tip is to make sure everyone in your group can swim.

If they don’t know how to swim, make sure they are properly wearing a lifejacket and keep a watchful eye on them during the trip.

Take Boaters Ed Classes

No one would go behind the wheel of a car without taking a course, and you shouldn’t go behind the helm without doing so either. The majority of accidents are caused by boaters who are younger and have not had the proper training.

So no matter what form you take, from online tutorials to state-sponsored courses at a community college, take a boaters education class.

Requirements vary from state to state, but every state has a course that you should take, so you know how to properly operate your boat, and are aware of potential risks on the water.

Use Your Common Sense

Using your common sense on the water can be one of the best safety precautions you can take. For instance, make sure the weather looks good before setting off and if it looks like there will be a thunderstorm, get off the water as quickly as possible.

A great idea is to have a checklist to make sure that all safety procedures are followed and make sure your vessel is seaworthy by having it inspected from time to time.

Never overload the boat and run the risk of having it sink and make sure you have plenty of fuel.

Keep yourself at reasonable speeds even if your state doesn’t have posted speed limits and stay away from other vessels and personal watercraft such as jet-skis by at least 50 feet.

Don’t Drink and Boat

The last tip is to make sure you don’t drink and drive. Being out in the sun aggravates the effects of alcohol on the body, and the chance of accidents doubles when you’re inebriated.

If you’re caught drunk behind the wheel of a boat the penalties are the same as if you drive a car drunk, including the loss of your driver’s license.

What can we Learn from these Tips?

Simply put, we can learn the safest way to enjoy recreational boating. If you keep these tips in mind, you will ensure that a fun and safe time is had by everyone.

There are other tips to follow as well, such as designating a passenger as a lookout, but these five are the most important. Happy boating!

This post was contributed by R. Swingle from Orlando, FL. If you are a boat owner looking to donate an old boat, he suggests you contact Chapman School of Seamanship, a non-profit organization that accepts tax deductible boat donations.