Boating Safety….

“Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and put on a stowed life jacket,” said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council. “It’s important that everyone wears a life jacket while on the water. There’s no reason why you, your family and friends, can’t have fun on the water while also choosing to always wear a life jacket.”

  • The majority of fatalities occur involving boats of less than 26′, in calm water with waves less than 6” and in light wind (0-6 mph), during the months of June and July, on a Saturday, between 2:30pm -6:30pm.
  • In 2013 the Coast Guard counted 4,062 accidents that involved 560 deaths, 2,620 injuries and approximately $39 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Compared to 2012, the fatality rate decreased 13%, the number of accidents decreased 10% and the number of injuries decreased 12.7%
  • 77% of all fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those, 84% were not wearing a life jacket. Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
  • Only 20% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction.
  • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 16% of the deaths.
  • Twenty two children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2013. 36% of the children who died in 2013 died from drowning. 62% of those who drowned were NOT wearing a life jacket as required by state and federal law.

 Safe Boating Quick Quiz

Take a boating safety class

Ensure the boat is safe

Ensure the people are safe

  • Know how to swim. If you don’t know how, learn.
  • Keep lifejackets visible and accessible.
  • A child under 13 years of agemustwear a PFD except when the child is below deck in an enclosed cabin or the vessel is docked or at anchor.
  • Each person on board a personal watercraft must wear a PFD.
  • All persons being towed behind a PWC on water skis or any other device must wear a USCG–approved PFD. Ski belts are not USCG–approved.
  • In order for a PFD to be legal, it must be: U.S. Coast Guard-approved; in good condition and of the proper size; readily accessible.
  • All vessels must carry one wearable (Type I, II, III, or V) U.S. Coast Guard–approved PFD for each person on board or being towed.
  • In addition to the above requirement, vessels 16 feet in length or longer (except a canoe or kayak) must have one Type IV USCG–approved PFD on board and readily accessible.
  • Dress appropriately (layers, avoid cotton, hat/sunglasses) (air temp + water temp <120, may want wetsuit)
  • Pack appropriate provisions- water, food, spare clothing, sunscreen, raingear, toilet paper, trash bag, first aid kit, rope, knife, whistle/horn, flashlight

Ensure the waters are safe

  • Learn “the rules of the road”….. and obey them!
  • Know the weather predictions to plan appropriately.
  • Know the water conditions.
  • Always have a float plan and leave it with a reliable person who can notify the Coast Guard, should you not return as scheduled.
  • Don’t overdo your boating fun. In 3 hours of normal boating, the noise, motion, sun, wind and glare can frequently double an individual’s reaction time.
  • Stay Sober While Boating- Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in all states and is a violation of Federal law. You are assumed to have consented to a field breath test of blood alcohol content if requested by a marine patrol officer whenever you: operate a boat or PWC on Indiana waters.
  • Know when/how to file an accident report- You are required to submit an accident report to the IN Department of Natural Resources if you are involved in a boating accident in the state of Indiana in which: someone dies or disappears; a person is injured or requires medical treatment; Property damage exceeds $200.

Personal Water Craft

  • According to Indiana law, while towing a person behind a boat or PWC you must: Only do so during daylight hours: Have a person in addition to the boat operator, observing the towed person(s) at all times; Make sure all persons being towed are wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD.
  • According to Indiana Code 14-15-11, effective January 1, 1996, all motorboat or PWC operators must have a valid drivers license to operate on all Indiana public waters.
  • If you operate your motorboat while intoxicated, recklessly, or break the PWC laws, you could have points assessed against your drivers license.
  • Each person on board a person water craft must wear a PFD.


State of Indiana specifics

  • An Indiana certificate of registration is required to operate a vessel legally on public waters unless the vessel is non-motorized (vessels using an electric trolling motor require registration).
  • All privately owned, motorized and non-motorized boats moored or operating on state park, state forest or reservoir lakes in Indiana must have a lake permit displayed on the boat.
  • Indiana law states that a person 15 years old who does not have a driver’s license must successfully complete a boater education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources and have onboard an I.D. issued by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to legally operate a motorboat greater than 10 hp or PWC.
  • On Indiana waters (including the open waters of Lake Michigan), a person who operates a boat at greater than ten miles per hour, between sunset and sunrise, commits a Class C infraction.

Our Environment -The natural beauty of our waters attracts many people to boating. Yet some boaters still dump their garbage into the water. Here’s what you can do to help:

  • Make it boat policy that no trash is discarded overboard. Federal law prohibits the discharge of any plastic trash, and restricts the overboard disposal of other shipboard trash.
  • Encourage your dock or marina to provide adequate garbage  cans and recycling bins. All ports and marinas are required by law to provide trash containers for boaters.
  • Retrieve trash encountered in the water or on shore, where possible; Participate in local beach and harbor cleanups, and leave the beach clean after your visits.
  • Share your concern with others and encourage them to help.
  • Fishing line is NOT biodegradable and should never be discarded in the water.