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Staying Safe on the Water – Boating Safety Tips and Resources

Boating offers people plenty of opportunities to have fun with their friends and family but it can also be dangerous. Accidents happen all the time, especially when someone has no idea how to use one. Fortunately, many safety regulations have been established to help keep people safe.

First, it’s important to realize that you must have a boating license to operate a boat. You will almost always have to pass some sort of boating safety test that asks important questions. You will also be required to have certain safety equipment aboard your boat, among them a fire extinguisher and life vests, in case of emergency. There are strict laws governing how a boat is operated as well, depending on the type of boat and a boat’s size. However, accidents can be considered negligence in some cases so you must be aware of the laws.

An interesting note: laws differ by state and country, so make sure you are aware of the laws of the state you are boating in.

Safety Equipment Requirements for your Boat

  • USCG Boating Safety Equipment Regulations: The United States Coast Guard’s official site for boating safety equipment regulations. Includes information on fire extinguishers, ventilation, etc.
  • Kentucky Safety Regulations: An example of a state’s boating equipment safety regulations. Discusses lighting equipment, signaling devices, etc.
  • Wisconsin Safety Requirements: The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources page on boating equipment safety. Also offers general boat safety tips.
  • MSLE Equipment Requirements: The Marine Safety and Law Enforcement Program’s equipment requirements. Information is categorized by size of the vessel.

Licensing

Prohibition Against Careless Operation

  • Prohibitions Against Careless Operation: A government site discussing the Prohibition Against Careless Operation of vessels. Also discusses enforcement and fines. Actual regulation page is linked here.
  • Maritime Law Criminal Offenses: Discusses all maritime laws that are in effect. Offers information on what constitutes criminal negligence for boaters.
  • Small Vessel Regulations: Discusses all small vessel safety regulations as well as the Prohibition Against Careless Operation.

Compliance and Conformity Labels

  • Canadian Compliance Process (pdf): Shows the process of obtaining a compliance label in Canada. Offers information about standards, vessel types, and categories.
  • Boat Capacity Labels: Discusses boat capacity labels.
  • Safety Compliance Notices: Canada’s official transportation website. Offers information about both compliance notices and capacity labels.

Miscellaneous Things to Know

  • CDC Boating Safety Information: The Center For Disease Control’s top boating safety tips.
  • State Boat Safety Laws: Links to information about every state’s boater safety course requirements. Discusses any classes that must be taken and minimum ages before someone applies for a license.
  • Boat Donations: Just like with other property such as cars, trucks, RV’s and heavy equipment, in time, boats, yachts and other watercraft need to be replaced. Instead of trading in your boat or selling it on your own consider donating it to a good cause instead. When you donate your boat or donate a yacht, you may receive a tax deduction that will be more beneficial to you than if you tried to sell it or trade it in.
  • Boat Safety Course: Offers a free boater safety course that has been approved by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
  • NASBLA Approved Boating Safety Courses: The NASBLA organization’s official listing of approved boating safety courses. Courses are listed by state and any additional procedures required are also listed.
  • Watercraft Safety Tips: Offers general watercraft safety tips. Discusses what causes boating accidents, etc.

Boating can be quite dangerous if boating safety laws are not followed – but once you get the hang of following the regulations, the fun can really start!

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