As spring starts to come into focus, many of us have our minds set on getting back out on the water. While there’s no question that aquatic activities are enjoyable ways to soak up some sun, as any boater can tell you, there are always risks involved. It’s important to proactively consider these risks and to make sure that you and your passengers are ready for whatever may strike.

Below, we’ll be taking a look at 5 of the most common causes of boating accidents and what you can do to stay safe during your next maritime adventure.

Excessive speed:

One of the leading causes of boating accidents, boating at excessive speeds can result in losing control and rolling over, or worse, collisions with other vessels. Be mindful of the conditions in which you’re boating and always adjust your speed accordingly. Also, keep a close eye on any posted speeds and always be careful to follow them.

Running out of gas:

Especially in turbulent conditions, it can be deceptively easy to miscalculate the amount of gas needed for even the shortest nautical trips. A good rule of thumb to follow is to always bring along 20% more fuel than the most that you think you’d need. Also, carrying around an oar or paddle is a good way to stay mobile just in case you do run out of fuel.

Inclement weather:

Doing research ahead of time on weather conditions is important, but as any boater knows, weather can change in an instant. Never leave port when you aren’t absolutely sure of the conditions. Also, make sure you have a consistent way to check for weather updates, such as a portable radio or GPS device. Stay attuned to your senses, and if it feels like there’s any chance the weather could get dangerous, don’t take the risk.

Equipment failure:

Equipment failure can leave you stranded on your vessel, or worse, struggling in the water. Make sure you practice proper boat maintenance and get regular inspections to ensure your vessel is ready to handle the sea. Always carefully double check all instruments and equipment before leaving port. In the event of an equipment failure, make sure you’re prepared with the proper safety gear.

Lacking proper safety gear:

The US Coast Guard requires all children under 13 years of age to be wearing a life jacket at all times while on a boat, and that’s a good rule of thumb for adults, too. There are many different kinds of life jackets, so ensure that everyone has the correct one for both the conditions and the size of the person.

In addition to life jackets, it’s important to also have other essentials for safety, such as first aid kits, flares, and sound signaling devices (such as a working horn or a high-quality safety whistle). You never know what may happen on the water, so it’s always better to be over-prepared when it comes to safety gear.


Diligence and attention go a long way when it comes to staying safe while boating. Take personal responsibility for your safety and the safety of your passengers, and remember, more caution is always better, even if it seems like overkill.

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