Skip to Main Content

Start of main content

Staying safe on the water

When cruising the open seas or a lake, follow these suggestions for smooth sailing.

Having a boating safety routine doesn't have to take the fun out of boating. Whenever you're preparing to cast off, check that you've prepared yourself, your boat, and your crew for a safe day on the water.

  • Wear Your Life Jacket:According to the U.S. Coast Guard, approximately 78% of all fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2014, and 84% of those were not wearing a life jacket. Carry enough life jackets for every person aboard your boat, and require that they be worn by everyone, every time.
  • Prepare a Float Plan: A float plan is a document that lists important information about your boat and its passengers, expected location and onboard emergency equipment. Fill out a float plan before every outing and leave it with a trusted neighbor or relative with instructions to contact the Coast Guard or other appropriate authorities if you don't arrive home by an expected time.
  • Know the Weather: Whether boating is a seasonal or year-round activity in your area, knowing the weather will help keep you out of rapidly changing, dangerous conditions. Check the marine weather forecast before you set sail. And if you're planning to be aboard for several days, keep a marine radio tuned to up-to-date forecasts.
  • Know the Waters: Even familiar waters can carry hidden hazards. Be sure to purchase and carry charts of any water you plan to visit. If possible, ask other boaters or marina operators of any known problem areas that may not be marked.
  • Stay Alert: Prolonged exposure to sun, wind, and boat vibrations can lead to a condition called 'boaters fatigue,' which can impact your response time and decision-making skills as though you were drunk. Know your limits, and don't be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it.
  • Don't Drink and Boat: Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in every state and is a violation of federal law. There's little wonder why: the U.S. Coast Guard reports that alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. If you're bringing alcohol aboard your boat, designate a qualified operator to abstain until everyone on board is back on dry land. Better yet, leave the alcohol behind.

State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates) is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites hyperlinked from this page. State Farm has no discretion to alter, update, or control the content on the hyperlinked, third party site. Access to third party sites is at the user's own risk, is being provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any of the products which may be referenced on such third party sites.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

Get a Quote

Select a product to start a quote.

Contact Us

844-373-0003 844-373-0003

Also Important

Ahoy! Do You Know These Nautical Rules of the Road?

Whether you're fishing or cruising, it's crucial to know boating safety requirements.

Boat Insurance Basics: What's Covered

Boat Insurance Basics: What's Covered

Amateur sailors, learn about boat owners insurance and what the coverage entails.

Related Articles

4 Prelaunch Safety Precautions for Boaters

4 Prelaunch Safety Precautions for Boaters

Prepare your craft and your knowledge to have safe, smooth sailing.

Boat Trailer Safety

Boat Trailer Safety

Learn about towing equipment and how to adjust your driving while towing a boat.

Boat Safety: Why to Get Certified

Boat Safety: Why to Get Certified

Taking an approved boat safety course may net you an insurance discount.