National Safe Boating Week: 10 Tips for a Safe Voyage

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Attention, boaters: National Safe Boating Week is coming up on May 18-24, 2024. This campaign is a reminder to brush up on your boating safety skills, which will help you prepare for the upcoming boating season. 

National Safe Boating Week is the annual kick-off of the Safe Boating Campaign, a global awareness effort to help boaters be responsible on the water. 

Are you interested in learning more? This blog post will provide you with an overview of essential safety tips, plus everything you need to know about National Safe Boating Week.

What Is National Safe Boating Week?

As we mentioned, National Safe Boating Week is dedicated to promoting the safety of all boaters. It’s endorsed by the National Safe Boating Council, a nonprofit dedicated to creating a safe recreational boating experience for everyone.

Safe Boating Campaign Safety Tips

Check out some of the safety tips that the Safe Boating Campaign is promoting during National Safe Boating Week 2024: 

1. Wear Your Life Jacket

It’s paramount that everyone on board has a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. 

Life Jacket Image

It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a casual cruise or wakeboarding; accidents happen. And when they do, a stowed life jacket isn’t much help. Wear your life jacket, and ensure your fellow passengers do the same!

Learn More: Life Jackets, Vests & PFDs: How to Choose the Right Fit

2. Take a Boating Safety Course

Whether you’re a first-time boater or a seasoned pro, taking a boating safety course is always a good idea.

NASBLA (National Association of Boating Law Administrators) approved boating courses provide valuable tips that boost your confidence on the water. From learning how to operate your boat safely to navigating inclement weather conditions, there are so many reasons to take a course before boating season.

Find a Boating Safety Course

3. Know Your State’s Boating Laws

Every state has boating laws that all boaters must follow. If you don’t, violations result in ticketing, fines, or jail time. Even worse, you could put yourself or other boaters at risk. Therefore, it’s essential that you familiarize yourself with your state’s boating laws before heading out on the water.

Boating Rules and Regulations by State

4. Keep an Eye on the Weather 


As you probably already know, certain conditions are ideal (and not-so-ideal) for launching a boat. Check the weather forecast before heading out on the water, and be mindful that conditions change quickly.

Learn More: Weather Safety Tips for Boaters

5. Prepare Your Boat

Any boater can tell you plenty of items must be thoroughly checked before heading out for a day on the water.

Before boating season begins, we recommend scheduling a Vessel Safety Check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons. Every Vessel Safety Check is conducted free of charge. 

In addition, learn your boat’s capacity and be careful not to exceed it. Otherwise, you’ll damage the boat or potentially capsize. 

Read Next: Boat Trip Checklist

6. Follow Navigation Rules 

Just like roadways, there are rules of the water. Generally, these include rules such as:

  • Operator’s responsibility
  • Maintaining a proper lookout
  • Traveling at safe speeds
  • Knowing how to cross safely
  • Meeting head-on
  • Handling overtaking situations

7. Never Drink While Operating a Boat

Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and results in tickets, fines, and possible jail time. Why? Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination, which increases the likelihood of boating accidents.

Read Next: How to Celebrate Safely on a Boat

8. Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 

Gasoline-powered engines — including onboard generators — produce carbon monoxide. And as you probably already know, this colorless, odorless gas kills people who inhale too much of it. 

So, before embarking on your boating excursion, verify that you have a properly working carbon monoxide detector. Also, refrain from blocking exhaust outlets and anchor at least 20 feet away from boats running a generator or engine.  

9. Create and Share Your Float Plan

Before embarking on your excursion, file a float plan (aka your boater’s safety plan) with someone you trust. Doing so gives you the peace of mind that someone can find you if something happens while you’re on the water. 

In your float plan, include the following information:

  • Description of your boat
  • Details about the trip
  • The number of people on board
  • Your towing/trailer vehicle
  • Communication equipment
  • Emergency contacts

Learn More: How to Create a Float Plan

10. Pack Communication Devices

Communication devices are among the most essential items to bring on board. Before your boat trip, confirm that you have at least two devices that work when wet in case of an emergency. These devices include:

  • Emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB)
  • Satellite phones
  • Personal locator beacons (PLB)
  • VHF radios

Your Guide to All-Things Boating 

Ready to begin the 2024 boating season? Hopefully, you’ll remember the Safe Boating Campaign’s safety tips when you do. 

Check out our boating blog for more safety tips, ownership hacks, maintenance guides, and other boating inspiration.