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Fact Sheets

Browse national fact sheets on recreational boating, such as specific safety issues and other countless tips. If you have a question or would like to see a topic include in the resource center, please contact us.

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Boating Safety National Weather Service and Recreational Boating

Services provided by the NWS for recreational boaters include forecasts for coastal and offshore waters, and the Great Lakes.

Rental Boats Rental Boats

People may rent powerboats, sail boats, personal watercraft, canoes and kayaks, as well as stand-up paddleboards from rental boat liveries and marinas across the country.

Preparedness Boating Preparedness Recommendations

At a minimum, a boater should make sure that safety and other related equipment are on their vessel and in good working condition before each outing

Preparedness Boating Emergency Preparedness

A boating emergency can happen anytime, anywhere — and does not only refer to a problem with the vessel, but also to any dangerous situation involving a passenger.

Marine Environment Trash and Marine Debris

Marine debris is any manufactured item that ends up as trash in oceans, lakes, or inland waterways.

Life Jacket Life Jacket Loaner Programs

The life jacket loaner program provides the public with free use of life jackets on a first-come, first-served basis.

Communication VHF Radio with Digital Selective Calling (DSC)

The VHF radio (very high frequency) is the most common emergency marine communications device, and with good reason.

Communication VHF Marine Radio Channels for Recreational Boaters

It’s important that boaters use the correct channel when communicating on a VHF (very high frequency) marine band radio.

Communication Communication Devices Comparison

A boater should carry at least two communication devices that will work when wet.

Cold Water Cold Water Boating Safety

With cooler temperatures, there is added responsibility for boaters to be prepared for unexpected hazards.

Boat Types Stand-Up Paddleboard Types and Uses

Stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) come in a variety of shapes and sizes designed for a specific type of paddling.

Boating Safety Sun Safe Boating

Sun safety is an often overlooked aspect of boat safety. With fishing, cruising, tubing, anchoring, lounging, and entertaining, the time spent on a boat adds up quickly.

Boating Safety Boating Equipment Checklist

All recreational boats are required to have size-specific safety equipment on board.

Boat Types Personal Watercraft and Water Jet Devices

The official definition of personal watercraft (PWC) varies from state to state, but they are generally recognized as a vessel which uses an inboard motor powering a water jet pump as its primary source of motive power.

Education Boating Safety Education

Data suggest that boaters who have had boater education are better prepared for the risks they may face.

Search and Rescue Search and Rescue Process

Both the National Distress and Response System (NDRS) and Global Maritime Distress & Safety System (GMDSS) provide coverage for boaters

Water Sports Common Competitive Water Sports

These are many water sports that involve a boat. Water sports are action-packed, full of fun and thrills, and at other times they can be extreme and dangerous.

Navigation Tips for Crossing Coastal Bars and Inlets

Sound judgment and preparation is the key to success when planning a bar crossing.

Education Boater Education Reciprocity Agreements

Boat operators are required to meet the boater education requirements of the state in which they are operating

Navigation Sea Conditions While Crossing Coastal Bars and Inlets

There are three primary functions of nature that influence sea conditions on bars and inlets; coastal swell and sea state, long shore currents, bathometry and geography and tides and currents.

Education State Boater Education Requirements

The requirement to have boating safety education varies by state.

Boating Safety Carriage of Fire Extinguishers

The U.S. Coast Guard requires recreational boats to carry a certain number of fire extinguishers.

Boat Types Sailboat Types and Uses

Sailboats are powered by sails using the force of the wind.

Boat Types Powerboat Types and Uses

A powerboat, also referred to as a motorboat or speedboat, is a boat which is powered by an engine.

Boat Types Paddlecraft Types and Uses

Canoes, kayaks, standup paddleboards and rafts all belong to the category of manually propelled vessel commonly referred to as paddlecraft.

Communication VHF Marine Radio Channels for Recreational Boaters

It’s important that boaters use the correct channel when communicating on a VHF (very high frequency) marine band radio.

Cold Water Stages of Cold-Water Immersion

Cold-water immersion is the cause of many boating-related fatalities.

Navigation The Basics: The Rules of the Road

Since collisions are the number one type of accident on the water, boaters should remember these basic navigation rules.

Navigation Navigation Rules

Boaters call navigation rules – the basic laws governing the steering or sailing of a boat – “The Rules of the Road.”

Boating Safety Emergency Engine/Propulsion Cut-off Devices FAQs

Boaters frequently ask these questions about how an emergency engine/propulsion cut-off switch works.

Boating Safety Emergency Engine/Propulsion Cut-off Devices

Runaway boats are a potential hazard that can be mitigated with a switch or other system.

Communication EPIRB and PLB

An EPIRB and PLB send a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest Rescue Coordination Center.

Boating Safety Diving: Commercial and Recreational

Boaters and divers should exercise extra caution to ensure their safety on the water.

Communication Communication Devices

A boater should carry at least two communication devices that will work when wet.

Boating Safety Vessel Safety Check

Every Vessel Safety Check (VSC) is conducted 100% free of charge.

Life Jacket Broad Overview of State Requirements for Life Jackets

Overview of state life jacket requirements for PWCs, boats less than 16 feet, and boats more than 16 feet.

Accident Response Communicating Boating Safety: Law Enforcement and PIOs

One strategy to ensure the public has a safe, secure, and enjoyable recreational boating safety experience is support from law enforcement officers and public information officers in communicating boating safety messages.

Boating Safety Carbon Monoxide

Exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) in large amounts or even small amounts for a long duration often results in death.

Marine Environment Boating Clean Practices

Tips for clean boating.

Life Jacket Why Wear A Life Jacket?

Life jackets save lives! If a boater is wearing one, their chances of survival from capsizing or a fall overboard will dramatically increase.

Life Jacket Life Jacket vs. PFD Terminology

Life jacket is the preferred term used when talking to the public regarding wearable PFDs.

Life Jacket Life Jacket Styles

Newer style inflatable life jackets are powered by a CO2 cartridge (replaceable once used), and are cool and comfortable to wear all day while boating.

Life Jacket Life Jacket Comfort and Fit

Today’s life jackets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials. No matter which life jacket a boater chooses, it should be right for them, their planned activities and the water conditions they expect to encounter.

Cold Water Dos and Don’ts of Cold Water Boating

Imagine falling into 40-degree water. If not rescued, a person will die within 30 minutes.

Boating Safety Boating Safety Tips

Boating safety tips, such as: take a boating safety course, wear a life jacket, beware of carbon monoxide, never boat under the influence, and knowledge of propeller safety.

Alcohol-OUI-BUI Alcohol and Boating Don’t Mix

Boating can magnify the side effects of alcohol use. Effects include impaired judgment, reduced balance and poor coordination