Some boating safety tips include wearing a life jacket while on the water, avoiding alcohol and drugs while boating, and being mindful of potential carbon monoxide poisoning from boat engines. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that recreational boaters obtain professional safety checks of their vessels and equipment before leaving shore; the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons offer these checks for free.
Boaters should check weather reports before embarking, and be alert for sudden changes in weather that may signal an approaching storm. These signs include dark clouds, high winds and sudden changes in temperature. Boaters can use a barometer to check for pressure changes that herald bad weather. A working radio can help boaters signal for aid in case a vessel is overtaken by a storm or becomes disabled on the water.
To prepare for potential boating accidents, boaters should carry safety gear such as emergency flares, air horns, whistles, and spare flashlights and batteries. There should be enough life jackets for everyone on board, and children should wear properly-fitting jackets at all times. A first aid kit, fire extinguisher, emergency repair tools and a water pump are also good to have on board in case of emergencies.
Boat engines can discharge carbon monoxide, which is a deadly colorless, odorless gas. A seasick feeling may be a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning; the gas can also make people feel and act as though they are intoxicated. Carbon monoxide can accumulate in improperly vented enclosed areas. It can also condense toward the rear of a boat, even if the engine is not running. To prevent poisoning, use carbon monoxide alarms, secure all exhaust clamps, pay attention to how well the exhaust is running, and replace cracked or broken hoses.