Summer is a great time to take the family boat out on the lake for the afternoon. You can find a nice spot to relax, enjoy the water, and just soak up the sun. However, if you are not careful, you could cause an accident. In 2019, the United States Coast Guard reported more than 4,000 boating accidents. These accidents resulted in more than 600 deaths, 2,500 injuries, and $55 million in property damage. Staying safe and being prepared can be vital to a good time out on the lake!

Wear A Life Jacket. Regulations on life jackets can vary from state to state, so check with your state to find out what you are required to have. The right life jacket should fit properly for your size and weight, be properly fastened, and should not ride up when your arms are lifted.

Get Educated. Take boating safety courses and become familiar with the laws for the state you are boating in. Learn about carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless gas that can be emitted by boat engines or generators and know how to look for carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms and what to do in that situation.

Be Prepared. Make sure that your boat and all of its equipment is in good working order before heading out to the lake. Ensure that you have all of your needed supplies, including a first aid kit and tool kit. Make sure someone knows where you will be boating and who all you are with, as well as the time you plan to be on the water and when you plan to be back.

Use Good Judgement. Know your limits and keep within them. Do not drink and drive your boat. Pay attention to the weather and come in from the water if needed. Do not overload the boat with extra people or supplies. Stay alert and pay attention.

With these tips you should also always have a stocked safety kit on your boat. This should include the following:

  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Duct tape
  • Bucket
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Rope
  • Mirror or reflective objects
  • Garbage bags
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Life jackets

You can also get your boat checked by the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons for free. Learn more about this by visiting

For more information on boat safety, visit the National Council for Safety or the United States Coast Guard. Stay safe and have fun!