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Good Samaritans
Good Samaritans

Most recreational boaters don’t stop to consider whether their jurisdiction has a Good Samaritan Law or what it says. When they see someone in trouble on the water, they instinctively try to help. Still, it’s a good idea to know what your local Good Samaritan Law says, if you have one. Typical laws spell out the obligations of a boater to those in trouble and protections the law may provide if aid is unsuccessful.

Best Practices

Read BoatBeat’s General Best Practices, in addition to the following tips, for more recommendation and information.

  • Boater Responsibility: Public statements should always mention the acts of good Samaritans when they occur, thus encouraging others to always be alert for boaters needing help.
  • Float Plan: In cases of missing or late-returning boats, take the opportunity to discuss the importance of a float plan. You may want to note that the most common scenario for contacting the U.S. Coast Guard is when friends or family notice a delayed return is at odds with the boater’s float plan. Direct reporters and others to for additional information.
  • Good Samaritan Law: Contact your local state marine agency regarding local Good Samaritan Law.

Fact Sheets

The Basics: The Rules of the Road

Reporters Play a Critical Role in Boating Safety

Browse All Fact Sheets

Expert Sources

U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Auxiliary & Boating Safety

National Safe Boating Council (NSBC)

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

Browse Federal and State Point-of-Contacts

External Resources

U.S. Aids to Navigation System


Case Study Sources