It’s never too soon to begin thinking about boating safety. But beyond life jackets, what you should prepare or bring? Check out five tips for boating safety that will help make your next on-the-water adventure fun and safe.

Develop a Float Plan

You never know what might happen when you’re out on the water. Put together a float plan and make sure to leave it with someone at the marina, or tell a trusted friend or family member. The plan should include:

  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • The names of all passengers (with phone numbers)
  • Boat type, boat name, hull ID, and other registration information
  • Trip itinerary
  • Return ETA
  • Types of communication and signal equipment onboard the watercraft

If you’re an avid social media user, it might also be helpful to post where you’re planning to go. The U.S. Coast Guard even has a handy fillable PDF you can use to share with a trustworthy and reliable person. You should prepare a float plan anytime you plan to go out on the water – especially if you plan to go on a solo excursion.

Leave Alcohol Behind

At GetMyBoat, we believe alcohol consumption onboard is dangerous and strongly recommend against it. Boating and drinking are often depicted together, but this is an unsafe practice for everyone on board – not just the captain. Drinking can impair judgment, hinder reflexes, and lead people to make unwise and unsafe decisions that can result in serious injury or death. (We don’t mean to scare you – but we believe that safety comes first!) Boating safety depends not just on the weather conditions, but also on you.

Learn to Swim

Many people who go boating don’t know how to swim. Even if you’re someone who enjoys swimming or dog-paddling around a pool, it’s smart to learn how to swim and work on stroke improvement. In an emergency, you’ll want to know how to conserve energy, avoid undertows, and work with currents rather than against them. For more advanced swimmers or those who feel comfortable swimming in pools, consider an open water workshop. The American Red Cross, local gyms and community centers, and even triathlon training groups are great resources if you’re looking to shore up your swimming skills. You can even find infant and toddler swim classes to get little ones acclimated sooner rather than later. And on that note…

Practice Safety Drills

Particularly with larger groups, it’s important that you have an action plan in the event of a disaster. Run through drills for the most common issues or emergencies you might encounter, and make sure everyone knows what’s going on. It might not be fun or exciting to prepare for safety, but it’s essential and important. We’d also recommend taking a Boat Ed course. (They’re offered in many states, as well as in Canada.)

Do you have other boating safety tips you’d like to add? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Read more boating safety tips here.