Boating Safety Tips

Life jackets save lives! If a boater is wearing one, their chance of survival from capsizing or falling overboard will dramatically increase.
It’s no secret that boating is fun! Make the most of your adventure by boating like a pro. From the moment you reach the dock, put on your life jacket. Remember, the best life jacket is one you will wear. Accidents can happen in an instant and there’s often no time to put on a stowed life jacket. Be prepared for the adventure. Learn more about the Safe Boating Campaign at www.SafeBoatingCampaign.com

Wear a life jacket.

Wear it logo

No matter what activity you have planned on the water, always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the water. Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket.

Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for your water activity and fits properly.

male boater earing life jacket
Life jackets save lives! If a boater is wearing one, their chance of survival from capsizing or falling overboard will dramatically increase. Photo courtesy of the National Safe Boating Council.

A life jacket that is too large or too small can cause different situational problems. To make sure you have the right life jacket and the right fit, please read the Safe Boating Campaign Have the Right Life Jacket? flyer.

Know state boating laws.

Rules and laws can differ from state to state and violations can result in ticketing, fines or jail time. For more information, please read the Colorado ​​Boating Handbook with Regulations and Statutes Brochure.

Take a boating safety course.

Learn valuable tips that can help save your life in unexpected situations by taking a NASBLA (National Association of Boating Law Administrators) approved boating safety course. Many courses are online, and will save you money on your boat insurance. View a list of Colorado Boating Safety Courses.

Make sure your boat is prepared.

There are many items that need to be checked and rechecked on any boat.

Before you leave shore, take the time to read through the boat safety checklist on the Take Me Fishing website.

Be sure to know your boat’s capacity.

If you have too much on your boat, the boat may become unstable and capsize.

Check the weather, including the water temperature.

Know the latest marine weather forecast prior to going out, and keep a regular check for changing conditions.

Dress properly.

Always dress for the weather, wearing layers if cooler weather, and bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet.

Always file a float plan.

File a float plan with someone you trust that includes details about the trip, boat, persons, towing or trailer vehicle, communication equipment, and emergency contacts. Find out more at floatplancentral.org.

Always follow navigation rules.

Know the “Rules of the Road” such as operator’s responsibility, maintaining a proper lookout, safe speed, crossing, meeting head-on, and overtaking situations. Know what’s going on around you at all times, and always travel at safe speeds for the environment. Find out more at boatoncourse.com.

Don’t drink while you boat.

Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as a leading factor in boating-related deaths. Find out more at operationdrywater.org.

Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it. Be sure to install and maintain a working CO detector, never block exhaust outlets, and always dock, beach, or anchor at least 20 feet away from the nearest boat that is running a generator or engine.

Keep in touch.

Communication devices can be the most important piece of emergency equipment on board a vessel, especially in case of emergency. Be sure to have at least two communication devices that work when wet, such as satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), VHF radios, and personal locator beacons (PLB). And, know how to use it.


Information provided by the National Safe Boating Council. The Safe Boating Campaign is a worldwide effort focused on responsible boating led by the National Safe Boating Council with support from boating safety advocates around the world. At its heart, the Safe Boating Campaign is a grassroots effort that collaborates with partners to share about safe boating in their local communities through events, social media, workshops, and more. It is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

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