• Health & Wellness

    Boating Safety: Tips to Stay Safe on the Water

man and woman boating in a canoe on a lake, water safety

National Safe Boating Week May 16-22 

Boating is fun, but it’s important that it's also safe. Whether it’s a fishing boat, a canoe or kayak, or a personal watercraft, there are some basic safety tips that apply to all.

According to the National Safe Boating Council, learning to swim is one of the most important ways to stay safe on the water. But even expert swimmers can get into trouble. It’s important to be sure that everyone in the watercraft is wearing a life jacket.

“Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show that watercraft accident victims are more likely to survive if they are wearing a life jacket,” says Janet Chestnut, M.D., Emergency Department director at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls. “There are excellent models of life jackets that are comfortable and easy to put, so there really is no excuse not to wear one.”

Here are some additional tips to make your fun on the water safer:

  • Leave the alcohol on shore.
  • Be a weather-watcher. Check the forecast before setting out. If you do get caught in a storm, navigate to shore as quickly as possible.
  • Let someone know the details of your trip. Tell your plan to a friend who is staying on shore. Share details about who is on the boat, where you will be and how long you will be gone.
  • Be prepared for any contingency on the water. Follow a pre-departure checklist to be sure that nothing has been overlooked or forgotten.
  • Maintain constant supervision of children, regardless of their swimming abilities or use of life jackets.
  • Operate at a safe speed at all times, especially in crowded areas. Stay alert and steer clear of large vessels.
  • Be respectful of buoys and other navigational aids. They have been put in place to ensure your safety.
  • Make sure that more than one person is familiar with all aspects of the boat’s handling and operations.

"While you are enjoying your time on the water, remember these safety tips to ensure that you and everyone in your watercraft is safe and can enjoy the time together," adds Dr. Chestnut.