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Boating Safety

Safety Rule #1: Always Wear a Life Jacket
Safety Rule #2: See Rule #1

A recent report from the state of Florida indicates that simply wearing a life jacket could have possibly saved nearly 30 lives in 2005, as that many people died by being thrown overboard from small boats. Most of them were in calm, inland waters. Putting on a life jacket when you step onto a boat should become as habitual as buckling a seat belt when getting into a car. With today's designs and technology, there are many life jackets on the market that are less constricting than seatbelts, so you don't have any more excuses. Start wearing your life jacket today!
Fill out and file a float plan!
In the unlikely event of a boating emergency, somebody may know you are missing after you are several hours late. But will they know what to do? Who to call? Will they be sure that you didn't say you were staying that one extra day? One of the best ways to increase your chances of being rescued in an emergency is to file a float plan with a couple of friends that can report your situation to the authorities if you do not return when you say you are going to return. We've got a copy of the Coast Guard's float plan form here that you can use for free, along with emergency instructions for the people you leave it with. Print it out and fill out the form every time you go boating. View Float Plan Form (Viewing this form requires Adobe Acrobat reader)
Free Vessel Safety Check
To get your free vessel safety check from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadrons, simply visit and enter your zip code to find a vessel examiner near you. (Read more about this program at the Daily Boater.)
Boating Safety = (equals) Knowing how to navigate:
More than 85 million people now participate in recreational boating in North America. Many share 'navigable' waters with commercial and military vessels of all types. All must comply with the same Rules of the Road and understand standard Aids to Navigation for proper and safe conduct on these shared waters.
Learning to navigate properly is one major way to avoid boating accidents. Check out these statistics on some of the causes of boating accidents.

Navigation and Safety Courses

In the classroom:
  • Types of classes offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Related Article: What is the Coast Guard Auxiliary? (external article)
  • Schedule of Coast Guard Auxiliary courses for each state.
  • There are also safety classes available in many states conducted by the USPS (United States Power Squadrons, not the Postal Service), a non profit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects. Visit the USPS and find a class
    "Virtual" courses that you can take online:
  • Boater Exam offers a course that will actually get you a federally recognized boating certificate in Canada. ($$$)
  • Take the BoatUS online safety course. It's free, but they accept donations. (Free)
  • Dowload the NAVRULES navigation training program. ($$$, Free Trial)

    Additional Resources

    U.S. Coast Guard's Office of Boating Safety is dedicated to improving the knowledge, skills and abilities of recreational boaters with the ultimate goal of reducing the loss of life, injuries and property damage that occur on U.S. waterways. Visit site
    Nav Center
    The official web site for the USCG Navigation Center and the starting point for finding navigation information online. Visit site

  • National Safe Boating Week 2012
    May 19 - 25, 2012

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