Boater Safety

Safe Boating Tips

No matter how much experience you have, it’s always a good idea for everyone to review boating safety rules before departures. Below you will find 10 basic boating safety tips to help you stay safe:

  1. Be Weather-Wise: Always check local weather conditions before departure; TV and radio forecasts can be a good source of information. If you notice darkening clouds, volatile and rough changing winds or sudden drops in temperature, play it safe by getting off the water. For Current Conditions, head over to NWS Graphical Wind and Wave height maps for Lake Champlain
  2. Obtain a Vermont Boating License: Beginning boaters and experienced experts alike need to be familiar with the boating safety rules of operation. Classes are offered in-person or online, find out more at Operators in Vermont born after 1973 must obtain a license to operate power-boats over 6 HP
  3. Proper Selection and use of Lifejackets: Did you know that the majority of drowning victims are the result of boaters not wearing their lifejackets? Make sure that you, your family and friends aren’t part of this statistic by making sure everyone onboard is wearing a life-jacket
    1. There are many classes of personal floation devices (PFDs or Life Jackets):
      1. Class 1: 22lbs of buoyancy, will turn most unconscious victims upright
      2. Class 2: 15lbs of buoyancy, will turn some unconscious victims upright
      3. Class 3: 15lbs of buoyancy, has no head support, will not turn unconscious victims upright
      4. Class 4: Throwable Floatation device, required to be on vessel, but does not count towards life-jacket requirements
      5. Class 5: Hybrid / Special use PFDs, These are typically inflatable life jackets and can count towards life-jacket requirements for passengers over 6 years old, however, these must be worn while vessel is underway. Devices can be either automatic (submersion sensor) or manually inflated (Pull cord).
  4. Find out more about the types of life-jackets . Thee key to all of the above is the WEAR it. if your life jacket is under an overturned boat, you can not get to it.
  5. Carry a Marine Radio: a radio can save your life
  1. Understand the Rules of the water: Follow the navigational rights of way, give way to large and wind powered vessels, understand buoys and markings, learn to estimate the 200ft rule from shore (or swimmers) and other vessels, follow speed limits and know what horn and distress signals mean, and when to use them yourself.
  2. Designate an Assistant Skipper: Make sure more than one person on board is familiar with all aspects of your boat’s handling, operations, and general boating safety. If the primary navigator is injured or incapacitated in any way, it’s important to make sure someone else can follow the proper boating safety rules to get everyone else back to shore. for power-boats most come with a driver kill switch cord, if an event happens where you become thrown from the driver seat, chances are your passengers will be too! Wearing the kill switch cord is especially crucial if you are the only person on board.
  3. Develop a Float Plan: Whether you choose to inform a family member or staff at your local marina, always be sure to let someone else know your float plan. This should include where you’re going and how long you’re going to be gone.
  4. Avoid Alcohol: Practice boating safety at all times by saving the alcohol for later. The probability of being involved in a boating accident doubles when alcohol is involved and studies have shown that the effects of alcohol are exacerbated by sun and wind. Operating a boat while intoxicated (BWI) has the same Blood alcohol thresholds as a car, 0.02% for those under 21, and 0.08% for those over 21
  5. Learn to Swim: If you’re going to be in and around the water, proper boating safety includes knowing how to swim. Local organizations, such as the American Red Cross and others, offer training for all ages and abilities. Check to see what classes are offered in your area.
  6. Consider a Free Vessel Safety Check Take advantage of a free vessel safety check from the US Coast Guard. They offer complimentary boat examinations to verify the presence and condition of certain safety equipment required by state and federal regulations. Free of charge, they’ll provide a specialist to check out your boat and make helpful boating safety tips and recommendations. They also offer virtual online safety checks as well.