5 Boat Safety Tips to Stay Afloat and Avoid Accidents

5 Boat Safety Tips to Stay Afloat and Avoid Accidents

When we are out boating with friends or family we can sometimes forget the importance of safety. Even if you have years of boating experience, it is sometimes good to get a reminder of what is possible, and how you can prepare for it. In 2016, as a result of recreational boating accidents, approximately $49 million dollars of damage was caused. In many cases, the handlers of the boats could have been better prepared. We have 5 boat safety tips that you should consider. Use them wisely!

1. Inspect and Perform Regular Maintenance

To keep a boat seaworthy, we all must clean and maintain our boats. This is the number one rule of boat safety. The oil on a boat needs to be changed after every 100 hours of operation. The propeller should also be checked before going on trips to ensure that it is in working condition. After every outing in salt water, rinse the boat thoroughly with fresh water to remove salt particles. Also, depending on the year your engine was built, it can pose problems that cause electrical fires and other failures. Stay up to date on your engine’s condition. You know your boat, maintain it well.

2. Learn the “Nautical Rules of the Road”

Whether you are overtaking a boat, fishing in a lake, or deep-sea fishing in the Atlantic — you need to know what navigation ruleset you fall under. In U.S. Waters, you must follow International Rules and U.S. Inland Rules. These sets of navigational rules have been developed over the last 150 years to prevent collisions with other boats. Learn the Rules of the Nautical Road and avoid accidents that could be prevented.

3. Know Your Fire Risks

Boat Fire in the Marina

Fire is the fifth highest ranked risk for all boat losses. Off-the-boat sources such as a home, the marina, or a garage can cause your boat to catch fire. Also, if you find yourself navigating through murky waters, be aware that your engine may overheat as a result of a mangled impeller. The simplest solution to prevent expensive loss is to make yourself more aware of fire risks, which we list below:

1. 26% of fires are due to off-the-boat sources. Sometimes your boat is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Off-the-boat sources such as homes and garages may catch fire and spread to your boat without warning.

2. 20% of fires are due to engine electrical issues. Older boats have simple electrical systems which may cause problems. Get a good electrician to check and keep your system up-to-date.

3. 15% of fires are due to battery hookup mistakes. People may hook up the battery but mistakenly reverse positive or negative cables.

4. 9% of fires are from overheating issues. Replace your impeller at least every other year and check the engine compartment before getting underway.

If a fire starts in your boat, do not fight the fire unless you have a high-quality fire extinguisher on-hand like our Standard and High Capacity STOP-FYRE® units. Seeing as a boat is not cheap, you will want to ensure that whatever happens, there’s a chance you can save your boat. For extra safety, we recommend you install an automatic suppression system to suppress and eliminate fires. We offer 2 automatic suppression systems that can help you save your boat. Having both a suppression system and a portable fire extinguisher will guarantee the most protection from boat loss accidents due to fire.

4. Never Drink Alcohol

The facts are in and it’s clear. Operators with a blood alcohol level of 0.10 percent are 10 times as likely to be killed in a boating accident versus sober boat operators. That’s only about one to three beers. Never drink alcohol if you want to keep others and yourself safe.

5. Take a Boating Safety Course

Let’s be honest, reading a few tips will never be enough to get prepared for a boating trip. If you need to learn about the fundamentals of boat safety and operation or need a refresher, we recommend taking a course. There are many courses offered throughout the country for different types of boating and for all ages. Seek them through state boating agencies and other qualified volunteer organizations like the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.


Your safety and the safety of others depends on your training and comfort as a boat operator. As well, follow standard rules such as “no alcohol” and “regular maintenance” to lower your risk from random accidents. Take the right courses and training programs to keep your boat safety skills sharp, and above all, enjoy your trip off land!