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Rural Health Information Hub

Boating Safety to Prevent Drowning

Rural communities may consider implementing boating safety courses or programs. Operator inattention and inexperience are two of the top contributing factors for boating accidents. Rural programs should ensure that all boating operators receive proper boating safety instruction and training to prevent drowning accidents and fatalities.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary website contains several approved online boating safety courses as well as information about life jacket use, boating regulations, safety tips, and resources. In addition, rural programs can reference the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) website for more information on boating education requirements by state.

Examples of Rural Boating Safety Programs

  • Alaska Water Wise is a boating safety course offered by the Alaska Boating Safety Program that teaches participants the basics of boating safety. The course has been approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), meets the American National Standard for basic boating education, and satisfies most state boating education requirements. The course teaches:
    • Pre-departure preparation
    • Boat operation
    • Boating emergencies
    • Cold-water survival
    • Rules of navigation
    • Boating laws
  • The Alaska Office of Boating Safety's Kids Don't Float Program includes an Ambassador Program where high school students are trained as youth leaders to teach the Kids Don't Float curriculum and encourage safe boating practices.

Implementation Considerations

The U.S. Coast Guard 2017-2021 National Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) Program Strategic Plan outlines specific goals and strategies that programs can adopt when developing boating safety programs in their communities. Example goals include:

  • Improving boating education and training
  • Updating and enforcing boating safety policies, standards, and regulations
  • Enhancing recreational boating data collection efforts

Rural programs looking to improve boating safety in their communities can apply these goals and strategies to their boating education courses and programs. Rural programs looking to implement boating safety courses or programs should also ensure that all educational content and materials align with NASBLA standards.