Recreational Boating Safety Tips - The Fisherman

Recreational Boating Safety Tips

Boater Education

According to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), operator inexperience is a top contributing factor of fatal boating accidents – which is why ongoing boating safety education is essential. Qualified volunteer organizations, such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron, sponsor many courses, as do numerous state boating agencies. Designed to cover the basics of boating safety, equipment and requirements, navigation, emergency measures and more, these courses provide critical knowledge for anyone who plans to get out on the water.

Life Jackets

In 2020, the USCG reported 5,265 recreational boating accidents involving more than 750 deaths. Where cause of death was known, 75% of victims drowned and 86% were not wearing a life jacket. To meet USCG requirements, a recreational boat must have a USCG-approved life jacket for each person aboard. While it’s recommended that passengers always wear their life jacket while aboard a vessel, federal law requires that children under 13 years of age must wear one at all times, except when below deck or within an enclosed cabin. When worn correctly, lifejackets will fit snugly and not rise above the wearer’s chin or ears.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and poisonous gas emitted by all internal combustion engines, including boat engines. Traveling at slow speeds or idling in the water can cause CO to build up in the boat’s cabin, cockpit, bridge or deck, and winds coming in from the rear of the boat can further increase this buildup. The only way to detect this “silent killer” is with CO alarms, so be sure to install them onboard, especially in living and sleeping areas. In smaller vessels, consider First Alert’s Travel CO Alarm, which is perfectly sized for travel and recreation.

Drink Responsibly

Did you know the use of alcohol was the leading factor in 18% of all fatal recreational boating accidents in 2020? Alcohol is even more hazardous on water than on land, especially when you consider that the boat’s motion, heat from the sun, wind and spraying water accelerate impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster. So, if you plan to drink, always have a designated driver. Or, play it safe by avoiding alcohol and simply enjoying your time on the water.

Fire Extinguishers

The USCG’s rule on regulations for fire protection for recreational vessels states that boats under 26 feet must carry at least one portable fire extinguisher if no fixed fire extinguishing system is already in place. Boats between 26 and 40 feet must carry at least two extinguishers, while boats that exceed 40 feet but are less than 65 feet must carry at least three. For a portable, easy-to-use option, the First Alert Marine Fire Extinguisher is rechargeable and USCG-approved.