Celebrate National Safe Boating Week May 18 – 24



Top Tips for Safe and Enjoyable Boating

Photo from National Safe Boating Council.

Photo from National Safe Boating Council.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is inviting new and experienced boating enthusiasts to celebrate National Safe Boating Week from May 18-24, 2024. This week is a time to emphasize the importance of responsible boating practices and water safety awareness as boaters head out to California’s waterways during Memorial Day weekend. As boaters across the country gear up for the summer season of adventure, the U.S. Coast Guard and DBW are sharing the top seven tips for safe and enjoyable boating experiences.

"National Safe Boating Week serves as a reminder of the simple yet critical steps boaters can take to protect themselves, their family and others while enjoying our beautiful waterways,” said DBW’s Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “By following these safety tips, boaters can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water for all."

Here are the essential tips when heading out on the water: 

  1. Wear A Life Jacket: Life jackets save lives. Make sure you and all passengers have a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket onboard and always wear it while on the water. Remember, life jackets are the most effective means of preventing drowning in the event of an emergency. Life jackets are required to be worn for those under 13 years old while on a moving vessel.
  2. Boat Sober: Alcohol and boating do not mix. Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal but also significantly impairs judgment and reaction times. Alcohol is dangerous for passengers too. Intoxication can cause slips, falling overboard, and other dangerous accidents.
  3. Take a Safe Boating Course and Get Your California Boater Card: Familiarize yourself with local boating laws, regulations, and navigation rules before heading out. Understanding right-of-way, speed limits, and navigational aids will help prevent accidents and ensure smooth sailing. Boaters 60 years and younger are required to carry a California Boater Card while operating a motorized vessel on California waterways. More information is available at CaliforniaBoaterCard.com.
  4. Have the Proper Safety Equipment: Ensure you have all the required equipment onboard and in good working condition for a safe and fun day on the water. Review the ABCs of California Boating for more details.
  5. Stay Weather Aware: Check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions. Sudden storms or rough waters can pose significant dangers. Always have a reliable means of communication onboard to receive weather updates.
  6. File a Float Plan: Let someone know your boating plans before you depart. File a float plan with a friend or family member detailing your itinerary, expected return time, and contact information. In the event of an emergency, this information can be crucial for rescuers.
  7. Implement Clean and Green Practices: Get your 2024 California Boater Kit. Always carry oil absorbents on board and in your bilge to prevent oily discharges. To prevent fuel spills, use fuel bibs. Dispose of them as hazardous waste at your County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center. Never throw garbage into waterways. Take advantage of shore-side facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal, and paper. Used fishing line can be deposited at fishing-line recycling stations.

During National Safe Boating Week and throughout the boating season, the Division of Boating and Waterways encourages boaters to prioritize safety, stay informed, and always be prepared. Whether you're sailing, cruising, fishing, or paddling, safe and environmentally responsible boating practices benefit everyone on the water.

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California State Parks provides for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high quality outdoor recreation.