Safe Boating

Young girl on boat wearing life jacket
Personal Flotation Devices

It is important to wear a life jacket that fits you.

Even the best water enthusiasts can misjudge changing water conditions when boating or swimming in open water. Be prepared at all times by wearing a life jacket - you never know when you'll be tossed into the water.

Have children wear a life jacket that fits them, and watch them closely around water - they can go under water quickly and quietly.

A number of water safety laws were passed to improve the use of life jackets and prevent drowning:

  • Children 13 years old and younger must wear a life jacket that fits them on moving boats on coastal waters.
  • Recreational boats must carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard.
  • The life jacket must be available and accessible. This is a nationwide Coast Guard rule.

More information on personal flotation devices is available from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Young child at swimming lesson
Drowning Prevention

Drowning is a leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, it ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States and kills more toddlers 1-4 years old than anything but birth defects. Across the country, about ten people die every day from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children 14 or younger. The good news is that most of these deaths are predictable and preventable. Being aware of the risks and taking safety precautions are proven ways to prevent drowning injuries and deaths. Learn the facts and take action to protect yourself and the ones you love from drowning.

For more information, visit the CDC's Healthy Swimming page for information on recreational illnesses, drowning prevention, and other recreational water tips.

Rip Currents

Rip currents are areas of water flowing away from shoreline that can cause swimmers to be pulled away from the beach, out into open water. Rip currents, also mistakenly called rip tides or undertows, form in areas where water is unevenly distributed along the shore, usually due to sand bars or the wind.

For more information on rip currents, see the Rip Currents information page.


Last Revised: July 2, 2015