Drowning is the cause of death in 76 percent of all boating-related fatalities.
Important Safety Tips
The top five contributing factors in boating accidents are:
- Operator inattention.
- Improper lookout.
- Operator inexperience.
- Machinery failure.
- Alcohol use.
Wear a life jacket
- Accidents happen, be prepared. Life jackets float – you don’t.
- Drowning was reported as the cause of death in 76 percent of all fatalities – meaning that four out of five people died from drowning.
- 84.5 percent of people who drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket.
- Read Michigan's life jacket laws.
- Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of deaths.
- Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
Check your boat before going out on the water
- Make sure the boat is properly equipped and equipment is in good working condition.
- In addition to legally required equipment such as life jackets and fire extinguishers, always carry a first-aid kit, nautical charts and an anchor.
- Make sure navigation lights work properly.
- Ensure the cabin of your vessel has appropriate ventilation to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning.
Have a float plan
Inform someone who is not boating with you about the details of your trip, including:
- Where you will be boating and the route you plan to travel
- How long you will be gone
- When you plan to return
- Schedule check-in times
- Phone numbers for the local emergency dispatch center and U.S. Coast Guard in case you don’t return on time
- Watch for other boats, swimmers, skiers and objects in the water. This is especially true when operating in crowded waterways, at night and when visibility is restricted.
- Be aware of commercial fishing nets and buoys. Orange flagging may indicate a net is located in the water. Nets can also break away and float at the surface of the water, causing entanglements with boats.
Carry a cell phone or marine radio
Be prepared to call for help if:
- You are involved in or witness an accident
- Your boat or the boat of another becomes disabled
- You need medical assistance
Additional Safety Information
- Electric Shock Drowning
You are at risk by entering the water near a boat or dock powered by electricity.
- Great Lakes beach safety
Rip currents, high waves and other dangerous currents and wave conditions can occur in the Great Lakes.
- Boating Safety Certificate
Boaters born after June 30, 1996 and most personal watercraft operators must have a boater education card (boating safety certificate).
- Rules and Regulations
It is your responsibility to know the rules and regulations before you go boating.
- High Water Safety
Rising water levels on lakes, rivers and streams can present hazards for boaters, swimmers and others.