Five things to know
Boat operators and anyone riding a boat need to:
- Be prepared. Ensure you have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved/UL-Listed personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board and make sure each life jacket is appropriate for each passenger's height and weight.
- No substitutions allowed. Remember that inflatable toys, rafts, ski jackets or belts and other devices are not approved by the U.S. Coast Guard or UL as flotation devices. They are essentially toys and should not be used as a substitute for a PFD.
- Do not overload your boat. The most common boating accident is a collision with another vessel. However, capsizing and falls overboard are the most common causes of fatal accidents and account for more than half of all boating fatalities. Pay attention to the capacity label on your boat and be careful not to overload small boats with passengers and/or gear.
- Take a safety course. Approximately 70 percent of all reported fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction. Contact the local office of the United States Coast Guard to learn more about taking a boating safety course.
- Drink responsibly. Alcohol was involved in approximately one-third of all boating fatalities in 2004.
Sources: UL, and the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Coast Guard study, "Boating Statistics - 2004: You're In Command, Boat Responsibly"