Boating Safety Is No Joke

National Safe Boating Week: May 18-24, 2013

A rescue crew throwing a line.

Governments and organizations the world over proclaim all kinds of commemorative days and weeks. Some of these are as recognizable in name as they are for their intended purpose. Examples include National Non-Smoking Week, National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, National Hurricane Preparedness Week and National Mental Health Week.

But some commemorations of the calendar are less well known and seemingly created either to benefit special interests more than the public good, or to decry another special interest’s interests. It all depends upon your point of view.

For instance, the UK’s National Farmhouse Breakfast Week seems to celebrate eggs and bacon, while conflicting with the objectives of the Brits behind National Cholesterol Week. On the other hand, it might be a good thing that Planned Parenthood-promoted National Condom Week overlaps with National Date Week, until you discover that the latter refers to the fruit and not the typical mating ritual.

In May, there’s nothing to poke fun at. The United States commemorates National Safe Boating Week. The program’s slogan is “Wear It,” a call-to-action intended to get boaters to wear life jackets (otherwise known as PFDs; most aren’t jackets at all). There’s little questioning the sagacity of this advice. While boating fatalities dropped from 758 to 651 between 2011 and 2012, according to the most recent statistics from the United States Coast Guard, that’s a still too large a toll to pay for the sport we love. A huge percentage of those boaters who died drowned— and were not wearing a life jacket.

We’re commemorating National Safe Boating Week with a variety of content dedicated to boating safety. Here, you’ll find the information you need to deal with, and prevent, emergencies of every sort, from man overboard to fire aboard to electrical shock hazards afloat. The United States Coast Guard, along with media partner, created this Boating Safety website so that you can easily find a multitude of boating safety information easily. This information is rendered in a variety of formats to suit boaters of every ilk. Here, you’ll find articles, videos, tips and even children’s games, so that all generations of boaters can keep up to date on keeping safe.

The United States Coast Guard and we, its media partners, believe that safety is an integral part of the sport. And we further believe that one of the biggest keys to achieving safe boating is for boaters to think safety first.

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The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency’s Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to “Boat Responsibly!” For more tips on boating safety, visit