Watercraft safety is an issue that all should be aware of and knowledgeable about. It does not matter whether the watercraft is an 90 foot car ferry or an 2 person Seadoo, watercraft safety is critically important. If you intend to use a watercraft you owe it to yourself and your family to educate yourself about water safety.
Life jackets are the number one piece of safety equipment that everyone out on the water should either wear or have available. When riding on or in smaller watercraft, it is more important that you are actually wearing your life jacket at all times, since you are much closer to the water and there is more chance of going in with no time to put on a life vest. If you are on a larger boat, it is not always mandatory that you wear a life vest at all times, especially on boats that have an interior space. However, use common sense, and if you are the only one on the boat, or you are sailing in very bad weather, you should probably wear your life jacket at all times in these cases.
The next most important issue to keep in mind when using a watercraft is to be sober. Never operate a watercraft if you are under the influence of alcohol. Also, never allow yourself to travel in a watercraft if you suspect the driver might have been drinking or is otherwise under the influence of some substance.
Another safety tip that might not be obvious to recreational boats is to always make sure you know where you are going, how long you will be out, and make sure to inform someone of your plan. This is common practice with the operation of commercial vessels, but it just makes sense that you get in the habit of always having someone know where you should be and when you should be back. That way, if you get in trouble, you have the best chances of being found as soon as possible, rather than having no one realize you were missing until too late, or not know where to start looking for you.
In order to meet the safety checklist for small watercraft, there are a number of things that you must carry on board any time you are out on the water, which include things like a pfd for each person on the boat, a sound making device, a light or proper lighting on your boat for sailing after dark, something to basically propel your boat, something to carry water from your boat, etc. For the complete list of legally required safety items, you should check with the local coast guard. On top of the legal requirements, I always like to make sure that I have some other safety items with me, such as sunscreen and emergency water and food.
Boating is an activity that many people enjoy as a major part of their summer vacation or leisure time. Make sure that you keep yourself and your friends and family safe by following all the boating safety rules and tips, and educating your children early on the rules and procedures for keeping safe while enjoying boating.