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Boating Safety

With more than a million registered vessels, Florida is the boating capital of the world! See these tips to help prevent boating accidents and foster the safe enjoyment of our state's abundant fresh and marine water resources.

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Tips for Safe Boating

Boat with a beautiful sunset in the background
  • Wear a life jacket – According to recent boating accident statistics, half of all boating deaths are due to drowning.  This tragedy is preventable by  always wearing a life jacket while boating. Learn more about choosing the right life jacket.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – A significant percentage of boating accidents are due to collisions attributed to operator inattention or improper lookout. Pay attention and maintain 360-degree awareness while operating a boat.
  • Designate a sober driver – About a quarter of all boating accidents are alcohol or drug related. Plus, operating a vessel while impaired is illegal and operators can face arrest if found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  Celebrate after you’re done boating or make sure you have a designated driver.
  • Take a Boating Safety Course – About three quarters of operators involved in fatal boating accidents have no formal boater education. An educated boater is a safer boater! All boat operators can benefit from taking a boating safety course, even those not required to complete one.  Find a boating safety course.
  • Check your safety gear – In addition to all vessels being equipped with life jackets, boaters are also required to have a whistle or horn. In addition, the FWC recommends buying, registering and having an emergency locator beacon onboard. Boats also may be required to have lights, fire extinguisher and flares.
  • File a Float Plan – Let family and friends know where you are going and when you expect to return.  The sooner rescuers can locate an overdue boater, the more likely the outcome will be positive. Download a float plan form.
  • Know Where You’re Going - Familiarize yourself with local boating speed zones before setting out and always travel at a safe speed for environmental conditions. 
  • Watch the Weather – Weather on the water can change rapidly. Always check the forecast before you go boating and keep an eye out for storms and rough seas.
  • Stay with the boat – If you find yourself in open water after an accident or your boat capsizes, do your best to stay with the boat even if it’s partially submerged. A vessel, even a small one, is more visible to rescuers so staying with the boat can increase your chances of being found.
  • Report boating violations and dangerous or irresponsible vessel operation to the Wildlife Alert Program.
  • Know and follow the rules. Learn more about regulations related to boaters, personal watercraft, skiers, divers, and snorkelers at
An infographic that outlines the 7 tips for safe boating: Wear a life jacket, pay attention to what’s happening around you, designate a sober driver, check your safety gear, take a safe boating course, watch for serious weather, and file a float plan.