How to Reduce the Risk of a Dangerous Boating Emergency: Best Practices

When it comes to boating safety, every detail makes a difference. From choosing the right vessel for your lifestyle to what course of action you take in the event of an emergency, every element is essential. Safer habits and practices can reduce your risk of a dangerous boating emergency, but they won't prevent it altogether. The best way to avoid an unsafe situation is by preparing ahead of time, knowing what to do in case of an emergency, and following the rules of safe boating at all times. If you follow our list of recommendations, you'll be more prepared if something unexpected happens on your lake or river—and much less likely to end up in serious trouble.

What is a dangerous boating emergency, and what can go wrong

Boating is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but it can also be dangerous. One of the most serious boating emergencies is capsizing, which can occur when a boat overturns in water that is too shallow or when it is hit by a wave. If a boat capsizes, the occupants can be trapped underwater and may drown. In addition, boats can collide with other vessels or objects in the water, resulting in serious injuries or even fatalities. To help avoid these accidents, it is important to always wear a life jacket and to be aware of the potential dangers before setting out on a boating trip. By taking some simple precautions, you can help make sure that your next outing is safe and enjoyable.

How to reduce the risk of an emergency happening 

Choose the right boat for your lifestyle

The first step in reducing the risk of an emergency happening is to choose the right boat for your lifestyle. Boats come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the best boats for you will depend on your needs and lifestyle. For example, if you want to spend more time on the water but don't want to lug around a lot of gear or have trouble docking, a smaller fishing boat is probably your best bet. Another important factor to consider is where you'll be using your boat. If you're mostly boating in calm waters, you won't need as much power or storage as someone who's constantly battling waves in the open ocean. By taking the time to find the right boat for your needs, you can help reduce the chances of an emergency occurring.

Always wear your life jacket

Wearing a life jacket is always important when boating. It's not just about being safe—wearing it can help you avoid serious injuries or death. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard reports that nearly half of all boating deaths occur because people weren't wearing life jackets. And of those who drowned, 83 percent were not wearing life jackets. Wearing a life jacket is the single most important thing you can do to stay safe on the water. But it's not enough to just have a life jacket—you need to wear it. Make sure everyone on board is wearing a properly fitting life jacket, and be sure to check the fit before heading out on the water. It's also a good idea to wear a life jacket even if you're a strong swimmer. Remember, accidents can happen suddenly, and without warning, so it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Make sure your boat is properly maintained

Boat ownership comes with a lot of responsibilities. Not only do you have to worry about the cost of fuel and docking fees, but you also need to make sure your boat is properly maintained. Unfortunately, many boat owners neglect this important task, which can lead to serious problems down the road.

One of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of an emergency happening is to make sure your boat is properly maintained. This means taking care of small problems before they turn into big ones. For example, making sure the hull is clean and free of barnacles will help to prevent it from taking on water in rough conditions. Similarly, regularly checking your engine and oil levels will help to prevent breakdowns at sea. By taking a few simple steps, you can dramatically reduce your chances of experiencing an emergency while out on the water.

Always carry communication gear

In today's world, we are increasingly reliant on technology to help us stay safe. However, there are still many situations where technology cannot help us. For example, if you are out on Lake Michigan with no cell service and run into trouble at night, having some way to communicate with help can save lives. Carrying a cellphone or two-way radio can be the difference between life and death. In addition, it is always a good idea to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. This way, if you do not return when expected, they will know to call for help. By taking these simple precautions, you can greatly reduce the risk of an emergency happening.

Keep an eye on weather conditions

Weather conditions are one of the most common causes of dangerous boating emergencies. If you're out on the water, know when it's safe to plan a trip and what hazards might be present in those conditions. Making sure you have proper weather conditions for your planned trip will help reduce the risk of an emergency happening. Watching the weather forecast before heading out on the water will give you an idea of what to expect and help you plan accordingly. In addition, being aware of changing weather conditions while on the water can help you avoid hazardous situations. By taking these simple precautions, you can help reduce the risk of an emergency happening while out on the water.

What to do if an emergency does occur

Make sure you have a cell phone with you. If you are on a boat, make sure that your smartphone is water-resistant. Choose the right boat for your needs. The vessel should be appropriate for the type of boating you're doing, the location and time of year, the conditions of the lake or river, and any physical limitations or special needs. Learn how to use the equipment on board before you go out—and make sure everyone knows how to use it too. Check weather reports before going out. Know what to expect from changing weather conditions and plan accordingly. This is also a good idea if you're planning to go fishing or diving during inclement weather (for example). Make sure your vessel is in good working order by checking it ahead of time and making any necessary repairs or modifications before leaving the port. Know what safety equipment you can take along with you when boating (i.e., life jackets)

Perform a vessel security check

A vessel security check is an important way to ensure the safety of your boat and its occupants. By taking a few simple steps, you can help to ensure that your vessel is secure from potential threats.

Here's how to perform a vessel security check:

First, take a look around your vessel and make sure that all entry points are secured. Check doors and windows to make sure that they are locked, and look for any other potential sources of entry. If you find any areas that could be improved, take action to secure them. Once you've done this, move on to the next step. 

Next, assess the security of your onboard equipment and supplies. Make sure that all valuable items are securely stored away and that any dangerous materials are properly labeled and stored in a safe location. If you have any concerns about the security of your belongings, consider investing in a safe or lockable storage container.

Finally, familiarize yourself with the procedures for reporting suspicious activity or safety hazards. This includes knowing who to contact in the event of an emergency, as well as being aware of any local reporting requirements. By taking these simple steps, you can help to ensure the safety of your vessel and its occupants.

By taking the time to perform a vessel security check before setting sail, you can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone on board.


Boating can be a fun and relaxing activity, but it is important to stay safe while doing so. There are several best practices that boaters should follow in order to reduce the risk of a dangerous emergency. These include being prepared for any situation, being aware of your surroundings, and knowing how to communicate with first responders if needed. By following these guidelines, you can rest assured that you will have a safe and enjoyable time on the water!