• life jacket with "Wear It Michigan"

    Drowning is the cause of death in 76 percent of all boating-related fatalities.

Important Safety Tips

  • The top five contributing factors in boating accidents are:

    • Operator inattention.
    • Improper lookout.
    • Operator inexperience.
    • Machinery failure.
    • Alcohol use.
  • Wear a life jacket

    • Accidents happen, be prepared. Life jackets float – you don’t.
    • Drowning was reported as the cause of death in 76 percent of all fatalities – meaning that four out of five people died from drowning.
    • 84.5 percent of people who drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket.
    • Read Michigan's life jacket laws.

    Boat sober

    • Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 19 percent of deaths.
    • Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.

    Check your boat before going out on the water

    • Make sure the boat is properly equipped and equipment is in good working condition.
    • In addition to legally required equipment such as life jackets and fire extinguishers, always carry a first-aid kit, nautical charts and an anchor.
    • Make sure navigation lights work properly.
    • Ensure the cabin of your vessel has appropriate ventilation to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning.

    Have a float plan

    Inform someone who is not boating with you about the details of your trip, including:

    • Where you will be boating and the route you plan to travel
    • How long you will be gone
    • When you plan to return
    • Schedule check-in times
    • Phone numbers for the local emergency dispatch center and U.S. Coast Guard in case you don’t return on time

    Stay alert

    • Watch for other boats, swimmers, skiers and objects in the water. This is especially true when operating in crowded waterways, at night and when visibility is restricted.
    • Be aware of commercial fishing nets and buoys. Orange flagging may indicate a net is located in the water. Nets can also break away and float at the surface of the water, causing entanglements with boats.

    Carry a cell phone or marine radio

    Be prepared to call for help if:

    • You are involved in or witness an accident
    • Your boat or the boat of another becomes disabled
    • You need medical assistance

Additional Safety Information

  • Electronic Shock Drowning Electric Shock Drowning

    You are at risk by entering the water near a boat or dock powered by electricity.

  • beach safety icon Great Lakes beach safety

    Rip currents, high waves and other dangerous currents and wave conditions can occur in the Great Lakes.

  • boating safety certificate icon Boating Safety Certificate

    Boaters born after June 30, 1996 and most personal watercraft operators must have a boater education card (boating safety certificate).

  • icon for law enforcement grants Rules and Regulations

    It is your responsibility to know the rules and regulations before you go boating.

  • High water icon High Water Safety

    Rising water levels on lakes, rivers and streams can present hazards for boaters, swimmers and others.