Boating Safety Tips

How to Wear a Life Jacket

  1. Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket (PFD) when boating. Choose a life jacket that is right for your child’s weight and water activity. For younger children, choose a PFD with both a collar for head support and a strap between the legs.
  2. Keep weak- and non-swimmers in PFDs while on docks and marinas. Swimming aids and water toys, such as water wings and inflatable water rings, do not prevent drowning.
  3. Make sure life jackets are the right fit for your child. Watch this video to learn how to fit a life jacket.  

How to Teach Your Child to Swim in Open Water

  1. Teach children how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development and how often they are around water.
  2. Make sure kids learn these five water survival skills.
    • Step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface.
    • Turn around in the water and orient to safety.
    • Float or tread water.
    • Combine breathing with forward movement in the water.
    • Exit the water.
  3. Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents and undertow. These potential hazards can make swimming in open water more challenging than swimming in a pool.
  4. Use designated swimming areas and recreational areas whenever possible. Look for posted signs about open water hazards. Also look for signs that say when lifeguards will be present.

Learn Water Rescue Skills

  1. Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills. It is important to know how to respond in an emergency without putting yourself at risk of drowning. Learning these skills may help you save a life.

Learn About Available Boating Safety Resources

  1. Follow the U.S. Coast Guard recommendations for boating safety. Learn about available boating resources, such as free vessel safety checks and boating safety courses.
  2. Learn national boating laws and regulations. The U.S. Coast Guard has information about federal and state regulations.


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