Summer is in full swing and many are heading to the open water. Though you’d think boating safety guidelines should be common sense, there are still those that are careless behind the wheel of their boat. According to Coast Guard, there were 4,168 accidents, 613 deaths, 2,559 injuries and approximately $55 million dollars of property damage because of recreational boating accidents in 2019.

Stay safe on the water this summer by obeying the following safety tips.

  • Take a boating safety course. In Washington state, all boaters ages 12 and older are required to pass a boating safety course or an exam in order to operate a motorboat with 15 horsepower or greater. Find what your state requires. Here is some info on boating safety courses from the US Coast Guard.
  • Get your boat examined. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer free vessel safety checks to ensure your boat is safe for you, your family and friends.
  • Make a plan. Let someone know where you are going, what route and how long you will be gone. Some things you may want to include are:
    • Driver and passenger names and phone numbers
    • Boat type and registration information
    • Types of communication and signal equipment onboard
  • Be prepared.
    • Before you head out, check the weather and water conditions where you’ll be boating to ensure it is safe to go out.
    • Make sure you’re dressed for the weather and bring extra clothing in case you get wet
    • Don’t forget the sunscreen.
    • Know the signs of heat related illnesses.
  • Never drink and boat. Nearly half of all boating accidents involve alcohol. Drinking affects coordination, vision, balance, and judgment. Don’t put yourself and others at risk.
  • Be alert. Accidents happen, even on the water. Watch for changes in weather, obstructions, other boats and swimmers, skiers, and the like.
  • Wear your life jacket. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, you should wear one. A fall from a boat can result in injury, disorientation, or unconsciousness. A life jackets will keep your head above water, making it easier for rescue. Children should always wear life jackets. For more information on life jackets, click
  • Don’t speed and abide by no wake zones. Wake zones help protect swimmers and smaller boats. Not obeying them could result in a boating accident or injury.
  • Have a first mate. Have one person, aside from the driver, that is familiar with boating in case the primary operator becomes incapacitated for some reason.
  • Be aware of carbon monoxide. Know where CO might accumulate and the symptoms of CO poisoning.

Though these tips may seem excessive but following these tips will protect yourself and your passengers, and ensure a fun and safe time on the water for all.