According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 89 percent of reported fatalities in 2011 happened on boats where the driver had not received boating safety training. Make sure anyone who drives your boat is properly trained. You also can save up to 15 percent on your Safeco boat policy by completing a safety course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons.
It's not enough to just have life jackets on board. You and your passengers must wear them. The U.S. Coast Guard reported in 2011 that drowning accounts for 70 percent of all boating fatalities; and in those cases, 84 percent of victims were not wearing a life jacket. New lighter, more comfortable and attractive life jackets are available today, making it even easier to get passengers to suit up.
Turn off your engine when there are people in the water, especially when they’re using the rear swimming deck of your boat. Teak surfing, or holding onto the back deck of a boat while it’s moving, can expose people in the water to dangerous and even fatal levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide gas is colorless and odorless. A swimmer exposed to carbon monoxide from your engine could pass out and drown before anyone notices. You can install a carbon monoxide detector on your boat for less than $100.
More than half of boating-related deaths involve the use of alcohol or drugs. The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a Boating Under the Influence (BUI) study and the results showed that a boat operator is likely to become impaired more quickly than a car driver, drink for drink. A BUI conviction can result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. In addition, some states will revoke your driver's license if you are apprehended for boating while intoxicated. Never operate or ride a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.