Before heading out on the water, you should properly inspect your boat; making sure lights, fuel and electrical systems are all working properly. It is important to keep necessary safety equipment on board as well. There should be lifejackets in good, working condition for all people boating, a first aid kit and fire extinguisher inside the boat. It’s also recommended you keep day and night distress signals on board in the event of an emergency. Make sure your boat is clean and walkways are free of any debris that could cause someone to fall.
Avoid drinking alcohol while boating. Boating under the influence, accounts for a third of all recreational boating accidents according to the U. S. Coast Guard. Alcohol can lead to poor judgment, vision and slower response time. Alcohol can become more hazardous when consumed on the water than land due to stressors such as sun, motion from the water and vibrations from the motor. Operators and passengers who are consuming alcohol while boating are putting themselves and others on the water at risk. Drivers who are found boating under the influence can face large fines, loss of license and possible jail time.
As the owner or operator of any boat, it is your responsibility to keep your passengers safe. Consider enrolling in boating safety courses and have your boat inspected regularly. Make a plan before heading out on the water so everyone on board is clear on what the rules are and what to do in the event of an accident. If an accident does occur, federal law requires that you report the accident to the State reporting authority if the accident results in death, injuries that require medical attention or if the damages total more than $2,000.00. (lower amounts in some states and territories)
U.S. Coast Guard, Boating Safety Resource Center.