Boating Safety Resource Guide

Nearly 20 million people regularly participate in recreational boating – and that’s just in the United States. It’s not hard to figure out why: boating is a lot of fun. Being out on the open water in a boat can be both exhilarating and relaxing, and for some people it is a way of life. Boating is also a great way to spend time and make memories with your friends and family. Before you ever step foot on deck, though, it’s imperative to make sure you’re up to speed on all the safety facts and rules. Practicing safety first ensures that you live to boat another day. Use the helpful tools and information provided in the resources listed here to help you become a more responsible boater.

General Boating Safety Sites

The following sites are solid sources for boating safety statistics, information, classes, and more. You’ll find media materials to educate others, links to training courses, and even equipment recalls. You can trust these pages to supply you with accurate and current information that will help you to keep yourself, your occupants, and your fellow boat operators safe.

The Safe Boating Council – The Safe Boating Council is a nonprofit organization that works to promote safe and responsible boating, mostly through education. You can join up or just enjoy the many high quality safety videos and articles.

Boating Accident Statistics – This page, made available by the North American Safe Boating Campaign, has graphs, charts, study statistics, and other safety materials that you can download and print out.

US Geological Survey Boating Safety Resource Center – This is the official website of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division and it’s a site every boater should have bookmarked. Keep up with all the latest safety rules, statistics, product recalls, and maritime news.

Commander Bob – This is a popular boating safety site that is full of free information for lovers of aquatic recreation. There are checklists, guides, and helpful articles. There’s even a section where you can take the boat operator-licensing test for your state.

Specialized Boating Safety Information

While they may be the most common type, motorboats are far from the only craft out on the water. The resources in this section pertain to other types of boats like sailboats, canoes, and personal watercraft. Knowing and following safety protocol is no less important when enjoying these types of vessels.

The American Canoe Association – The ACA provides free safety information about canoes and other human-powered vessels. You can find links to safety courses, information about rafting excursions, and a lot more.

U.S. Sailing – U.S. Sailing is one of the largest sailboat enthusiast communities in the United States. It has information about safety certifications, sailing courses – and you can even sign up to be part of a racing team.

Personal Watercraft Safety Resources – If you plan to go out on a jet ski or wave runner, check out the Personal Watercraft Industry Association’s safety page. On it, you’ll find free PDF files with official riding rules, rider orientation checklists, and more.

Houseboat Safety – Houseboats have their own unique set of safety rules and this video from Lake Powell Resort and Marina goes through everything you need to know to have fun and stay safe on a houseboat.

Towing Boats and Pulling Skiers

Boating safety extends beyond the boat itself and to the roads you use to transport it, and also to anyone being towed behind your boat on the water. It’s vitally important to follow safety rules when you tow your boat, as well as when you are towing a skier, tuber, or anyone else. The resources here will supply all the tools and information you need to make sure that you’re being a responsible and safe boater at all times.

Introduction to How Boat Towing Safety Works – Boating safety isn’t all about being on the water. You also have to be vigilant about following safety rules when you tow your vessel behind a vehicle. A fun day on the boat can be stopped before it even starts if you don’t follow proper towing procedures.

What to Know About Towing Skiers on a Vessel – This page is actually part of the Pennsylvania boating license study guide, and has a great list of safety rules for towing a skier behind your boat.

Safety for Wake Sports and Towed Devices – Don’t tow anyone behind your boat (or let anyone tow you) until you review and understand the safety rules outlined here. Make sure you know all of the hand signals, also illustrated on the page.

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators – This is the place to go for all the latest updates on boating laws and safety regulations. You can look up area-specific towing laws before you head out. There’s also a boating accident report, archived articles, discussion forums, and much more.

Boating Safety for Kids

Days spent on the water make for wonderful childhood memories, but a fun outing can quickly turn to tragedy if safety rules are not followed. Obviously, it’s direly important to get kids familiar with boating safety rules It can be a challenge, however, to do so in a way that is neither boring nor scary. These sites and articles are both kid-appropriate and full of invaluable information for little boaters.

Kids Aboard – This kid-oriented site has lots of articles, news stories, and other boating safety resources for young water lovers.

Safe Boating Kidsite – This site is designed to be used by kids, and features a fun interactive map where kids can click on their home state and find out more about boating laws and regulations in their area.

Boating and Water Recreation Safety – This article provides a good summary of the dos and don’ts of boating with kids. Click around the site for pages about other child safety issues.

BoatSafe for Kids – Let kids browse the links and pages on this site for fun boating facts, trivia, and safety information. There are answers to questions like how fast a knot is, how compasses work, and lots more.

Safety Checklists

You should never become lax about running through your boating safety checklist before boarding. You need perform this routine every time you leave the dock, and certainly before bringing on any passengers. You have to know what to look for in order to catch any small problems before they turn into big ones. A minor inconvenience on shore can become a dangerous predicament on the water. The safety checklists and pre-boarding resources listed here are all reliable and helpful.

Pre-Departure Checklist – Don’t set sail without consulting this list. Tick them all off and you’ll know you’re good to go. It’s all-too-easy to forget something important if you don’t add a safety check to your routine.

Virtual Vessel Examiner – Need to make sure your boat is water worthy? Use this online safety check to find out before you go.

Vessel Requirements – Go through this list to make sure your boat meets all the necessary safety requirements. This guide is extensive, and includes everything from how many fire extinguishers you need to have based on the size of your boat to mirror placement guidelines.

Safe Boating Checklist – This safe boating checklist comes with both a text and video version, and is very comprehensive. Topics covered include engine checks, lifejacket requirements, and navigating tips.