Boating safety is the top priority of the U.S. Coast Guard and your boat insurance company.

In an attempt to keep boating safety top of mind to all boaters, the USCG works with several volunteer partners like the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadron, state agencies and others to promote and provide Boating Safety Classes in each state available to the boating public.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) is a not for profit group that develops public policy for boating safety. Their mission is to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries each year by offering training, legislature and education standards to local authorities to ensure a secure, fun and safe boating setting for boaters.

While each organization may have different courses they average between 6 and 13 lessons, and can be completed online or home study. There is an Educational Standards Checklist, which meets the minimum course content and provides the basis for operational and safety instruction.

These include :

  • Introduction to Boating - Types of power; sailboats; outboards; paddle boats; houseboats; different uses of boats; various power boating engines; jet drives; family boating basics.
  • Boating Law - Boat registration; boating regulation; hull identification number; required boat safety equipment; operating safely and reporting accidents; protecting the marine environment; Federal boat law; state boating laws; personal watercraft requirements.
  • Boat Safety Equipment - Personal flotation devices - life jackets; fire extinguishers; sound-producing devices; visual-distress signals; dock lines and rope; first aid kit; anchors and anchor lines; other boating safety equipment.
  • Safe Boating - Bow riding; alcohol and drug abuse; entering, loading, and trimming a boat; fueling portable and permanent tanks; steering with a tiller and a wheel; docking, undocking and mooring; knots; filing a float plan; checking equipment, fuel, weather and tides; using charts; choosing and using an anchor; safe PWC handling; general water safety.
  • Navigation - The U.S. Aids to Navigation system; types of buoys and beacons; navigation rules (sometimes referred to as right-of-way rules); avoiding collisions; sound signals; PWC "tunnel vision."
  • Boating Problems - Hypothermia; boating accidents and rescues; man overboard recovery; capsizing; running aground; river hazards; strainers: emergency radio calls; engine problems; equipment failures; carbon monoxide (CO); other boating and PWC problems.
  • Trailering, Storing and Protecting Your Boat - Types of trailers; trailer brakes, lights, hitches, tires, and bearings; loading, balancing, and towing a trailer; towing (and backing) a trailer; boat launching and retrieving; boat storage and theft protection; launching, retrieving and storing a PWC.
  • Hunting and Fishing, Water-skiing and River Boating - Carrying hunting gear and weapons in a boat; fishing from a boat; water-skiing safety guidelines and hand signals; water-skiing with a PWC; navigating rivers, and other boating tips.

The NASBLA urges states to adopt their model and hopefully reduce fatalities and injuries by requiring anyone who violates the Navigational Rules take a mandatory NASBLA approved boating safety course.

State Specific Boating Information can be found on your state websites and should be checked for more information.

Being prepared – attending boating safety courses in your area – and being covered by boat insurance are the smart steps toward safe, worry-free fun on the water.