Precautions you take on the dock can make all the difference on the water. Spend the extra time and run through this boat safety checklist before lifting anchor in your watercraft. In case that a trouble strikes, you’ll be glad you did.


Check the weather

Make sure you won’t be running into harsh storms or severe conditions. Even if you checked earlier that day, it never hurts to get one last forecast right before you head out.

Let someone know your plans

In case you run into trouble, it’s good to have someone back home who can take action (communicate with someone at least once per day).

Test/check your equipment

Most boats have an array of required safety equipment on board. Check that the following items are in working order while you’re still on the dock:

  • Horn
  • Life jackets
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flares
  • GPS
  • Towline
  • Navigation lights
  • Anchor and rode
  • Emergency radio

Inspect fluids

Check levels on all key fluids, such as gasoline, coolant, and lubricating oil. If your boat runs on an inboard gasoline engine, run the blower for at least 4 minutes before starting her up.

Dry the bilge

Your bilge is the lowest point on the vessel, a basin where most excess water accumulates. Letting the pool get too heavy can pose a sinking threat, so use the bilge pump to dry the boat whenever moisture begins to collect.

Ventilate all areas

Open up all interior spaces so they can air out. If you smell fuel, run the ventilation blowers to eliminate the odor. If you still smell gasoline after starting the engine, shut down and find the leak source.