Boating Safety Guide: Staying Safe on the Water

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 studying to get your driver’s license, 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 boater’s education course and carry a license or certificate proving successful course completion any time they're on the water. By consulting our safe boating guide and obtaining the required certificates beforehand, you not only protect yourself and family but other boaters on the water.

To learn more about the boating rules, laws and regulations in your state regarding life jacket requirements, minimum age to operate a boat or personal watercraft, and so much more, visit our interactive map.

Find Boating Resources in Your State

boating rules and regulations by state
basic boat safety equipment

Boat Safety Checklist & Equipment List

No matter what type of boating you do, you'll need a few critical items onboard, including some required by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Using Your Boat's Engine Cut-Off Switch (ECOS)

Learning how to use your boat or personal watercraft's engine cut-off switch, or ECOS, is a must, especially for boats under 26 feet in length.

boat engine cut-off switch

Safe Boating Guides - By Topic

Pre-Departure Checklist

Before you leave the dock, you'll need to ensure you have the right safety gear and equipment on your boat, as required by regulation. Our Boat Safety Checklist & Safety Equipment list can help.

Boat Safety Checklist & Safety Equipment List

Headline
Latest Wave of Boating News & Resources

Subhead
Inspirational stories, how-to articles, and expert tips for new & experienced boaters

Life raft basics and picking one that will fit your needs

Gear for yourself or for gifting

Here’s a look at seven great holiday gifts for kids who love to go boating.