Boating Safety Guide: Staying Safe on the Water

You learned the "rules of the road" before you sat behind the wheel of a car, and you should do the same before taking the helm. Just like studying to get your driver’s license, it is very important to have the boating information and certifications you need to be a safe boater before you hit the water.

In fact, a number of states require powerboat operators to take a boater’s education course and carry a license or certificate proving successful course completion any time they're on the water. By consulting our safe boating guide and obtaining the required certificates beforehand, you not only protect yourself and family but other boaters on the water.

To learn more about the boating rules, laws and regulations in your state regarding life jacket requirements, minimum age to operate a boat or personal watercraft, and so much more, visit our interactive map.

Find Boating Resources in Your State

boating rules and regulations by state

Safe Boating Guides - By Topic

Pre-Departure Checklist

Before you leave the dock, you'll need to ensure you have the right safety gear and equipment on your boat, as required by regulation. Our Boat Safety Checklist & Safety Equipment list can help.

Boat Safety Checklist & Safety Equipment List

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Inspirational stories, how-to articles, and expert tips for new & experienced boaters

Boat fenders, often referred to as "boat bumpers" by new or novice boaters, provide a cushion between your boat and a dock, jetty or another boat. Let's take a look at the steps for tying a boat fender in the proper location, and discuss the best fenders to use for your boat type.

Do you know how to Clean, Drain, Dry your boat? To stop the spread of aquatic hitchhikers (or aquatic invasive species, or AIS), be sure to clean, drain, and air-dry your entire boat before launching in another waterway.

Tailgating on a boat, also called "boatgating" or "sailgating," is just like planning a tailgate on land, but better! When it comes to boatgating for the big game, remember to always have a 'safety first' mindset. Read on for more tips on grilling, planning, and prep.