Boating Safety Tips

Boating Safety Tips

This is the time of year when people love to be on the water to beat the heat and enjoy the sunshine and water activities.  We are fortunate enough to live next to the beautiful Ohio River, as well as several creeks, lakes and streams, which enables us to enjoy boating and other water activities.  For the most part these are safe activities if you follow the rules, but unfortunately you will occasionally hear of an accident.  In West Virginia, anyone born after December 31, 1986, must complete a boating education course before operating a motorboat.  This test can be taken online at, or you can contact a local Natural Resources Police Officer for an available course near you.  The West Virginia Department of Natural Resources also has several safe boating rules that people should abide by, and they are:

  • Don’t operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Don’t’ overload the boat.
  • Don’t’ sit on the edge of the boat.
  • If you must stand up, do so carefully away from the sides.
  • Drive at a safe speed.
  • Use navigation lights at night.
  • Keep a lookout for other boats and follow the rules of navigation.
  • Always let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Don’t’ fish during a thunderstorm.

You should also use your common sense—for instance, check the weather forecast before you set out in a boat, and don’t operate a boat if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Operating a boat while under the influence carries the same penalties as being charged with a DUI while operating a motor vehicle.  You should also pay attention to the traffic on the water, always being alert for larger ships which may cause the waters to become turbulent.  Lastly, you should have at least one personal flotation device (PFD) onboard for each person on the boat, and any child 12 years of age or younger must wear a PFD while on the boat.  Most boating fatalities are the result of a boat capsizing or a passenger falling overboard, and 80 percent of those were not wearing a PFD.

If you plan on boating this summer, please follow the rules and use your common sense—and have a great time!

Today, Sheila Cottrell shares summer boating tips.