Take a boating course | Both new boaters and experienced experts should be familiar with boating rules. Boating safety courses are offered locally, are inexpensive and often complete in a day, whether in-person or online, says discoverboating.com. Also, be familiar with the boating state laws as they may vary by state. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Be prepared with safety gear | Emergencies happen, even on boats. Nationwide suggests keeping the following essential items on board: a flashlight, duct tape, bucket, first aid kit, whistle, ropes, mirror, garbage bags, fire extinguisher and life jackets. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Life jackets are a must | Even if you consider yourself a good swimmer, you should wear a life jacket. The U.S. Coast Guard reported that 76% of boating deaths in 2017 were due to drowning, and 84% of the victims were not wearing a life jacket. The National Safety Council suggests picking the right life jacket by activity, making sure the jacket is a proper fit for your size and weight, and ensuring it is properly fastened to make sure there is no excess room above the openings when you put it on. Also, make sure that the jacket does not ride up over your chin or face. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Check the weather | Discoverboating.com says to always check local, route and destination weather and water conditions before departure to ensure it is safe to go out. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Be aware of harmful fumes | After refueling your boat, open all the hatches and smell for fumes. If detected, Nationwide says don't start the engine. Carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around your boat, such as inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures or enclosed places, blocked exhaust outlets, and at slow speeds, while idling or stopped, among other ways. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Advertisement

Wear non-slip shoes | Slipping or falling overboard can be prevented with the proper footwear and gear, says Eastern Insurance. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Use common sense | Much like driving on the road, operating a boat requires common sense. Stay alert, operate at a safe speed and make sure everyone on the boat is staying safely within the boat's railings. (Credit: Shutterstock)
Get your boat checked | Discoverboating.com notes that the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadrons offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment by state and federal regulations. Free of charge, they also offer virtual vessel exams. (Credit: Shutterstock)

The sight of boats out and about on the water is one of the many elements that mark the summer season. Whether it’s a group of friends spending the day on a fishing boat or a family spending time together in the sun on a sailboat, many individuals make time to get on a boat during the summer.

However, while many people spend time on boats, they often don’t know much about boat safety. This leaves them unprepared for the risks that come with being on the water in a vehicle they’re not well-versed in. Scenarios ranging from inclement weather to falling overboard into the weather can happen on any boat, but not everyone is ready to handle such an event.

With this in mind, here are eight essential boat safety tips to keep in mind for the summer and all future boating trips.

Related: Understanding the limitations of shipowners’ liability