Have a sober operator – Don’t boat under the influence. Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination. The marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray accelerates a drinker’s impairment; and decreases coordination, judgment and reaction time.
File a “float plan” with a family member or friend who is not boating with you and stick to the plan. The world’s only lifesaving device on paper can assist the Coast Guard with a search if you are in distress.
Wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket or personal floatation device at all times. The law requires you to have them on board, but the Coast Guard recommends you wear them at all times. The worst time to look for a life jacket is when you are already in distress.
Have a marine-band radio. If you are in distress the Coast Guard can be reached on marine-band channel 16, the distress channel. Use of a cell phone could provide rescuers with a false location of your vessel.
Boaters should be vigilant and keep an eye out for their fellow mariners and anything that looks unusual on the water. “If you see something…say something.” Suspicious activity can be reported to the America’s Waterways Watch at 877-24WATCH, or your local Coast Guard station.
Get a vessel safety check or take a boating safety course. Both are conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and/or the U.S. Power Squadron, and will prepare your vessel for the boating season and educate the boat operator.