You learned the "Rules of the Road" before you sat behind the wheel of a car and you should do the same before taking the helm. Just like in driving, it is very important to have the boating information and certifications you need to be a safe boater before you hit the water.. In fact, a number of states require powerboat operators to take a boaters' education course and carry a license or certificate proving successful course completion any time they're under way. By consulting a safe boating guide and obtaining the required certificates beforehand, you not only protect yourself and family, but other boaters on the water.
It's also important to have the right safety gear and equipment on your boat (first aid kit, life jackets, distress signals, etc.). Here are two great resources to help you make sure you're ready for a safe boating trip:
Learn more about boating education and safety with Discover Boating's boat safety tips and rules. Read about personal flotation devices, safe boating with family, and more.
Do you have what it takes to be a safe boater? Test your safe boating IQ with our boater safety quiz! Learn more at Discover Boating's helpful online safe boating guide.
Family Boating: Safety Tips for Boating with Kids
Boating is a great way to spend time with your children. There are many tasks that can be assigned to youngsters to teach responsibility and being out in nature provides endless lessons for the young boater. First of all, It is important to establish some boating safety rules and procedures that will help reduce the chance of trouble or injury during your excursion. Furthermore, if youngsters are going to be joining you, there are a few features to at least consider before making your purchase.
- When boating with youngsters, consider a boat that has a cuddy cabin. Runabouts, bow riders and deck boats, even some center console fishing boats are sometimes equipped with a small cuddy cabin to offer refuge for the kids if they need a nap, are getting too much sun.
- Buy a good life jacket or life vest with a collar that turns a child face up in the water. It must have strong waist and crotch straps, a handle on the collar, and preferably be a bright yellow or orange color for good visibility.
- Attach a plastic safety whistle to the life jacket and teach the child how to use the whistle - and practice using it.
For more children's resources, books & cds, plus a list of youth boating organizations, read our section on boating for kids.
Pet Safety While on the Water
If you enjoy boating, you probably enjoy taking your best friends out on your boat. What if some of your best friends happen to have four legs and a tail? The following tips can help you keep your pet safe and happy while out on the water.
- Keep plenty of fresh drinking water available
- Provide a shaded area—excessive exposure to the sun can cause problems for animals.
- Protect their feet—dogs absorb heat through the pads on their feet and boat surfaces can get very hot in the sun.
- Give you pet a chance to get acquainted with the boat while it is on the trailer or at the dock
- Walk your dog so he can relieve himself before boarding; if the boat surface allows, you may wish to train him to go in a specific spot
- Keep your first outing short, to let your dog get used to the boat movement.
Dog life jackets
The truth is not all dogs can swim. And not all those that can swim are great swimmers. Additionally, water or weather conditions can cause problems even for a pet that is typically a strong swimmer.
Any dog can get fatigued or disoriented. Older dogs, especially, can tire easily. Pets with low body fat can have trouble when exposed to water for long periods. Health issues, such as hip or joint problems can also make swimming difficult for some pets.
So, while there are no regulations regarding life jackets for pets, a dog life jacket can help keep your pet safe while aboard your boat or around any body of water.
Pet life jackets are designed to keep the animal afloat in a horizontal, swimming position. An additional, important function of a pet life jacket is as a retrieval device, should your pet fall overboard.
How do you choose a life jacket for Fido? Here are a few things to consider:
- Fit—Make sure the life jacket fits securely. It’s best to check the fit in the store, before you buy
- Lifting handles—to make retrieving your pet safer and easier
- Comfort—check to see where straps and buckles fall to make sure they won’t cause your pet any discomfort
- Color—choose a bright color to make it easier to spot your dog in the water
Give your pet a chance to get used to wearing its life jacket before actually getting on a boat. Allow your pet to practice swimming while wearing its life jacket, too.
If you find you pet enjoys boating as much as you do, a dog life jacket can provide your pet with an extra measure of safety. However, your sense of caution and common sense are still your pet’s best friend.
The following resources will help you learn more about boating education and instruction: