Division of Boating and Waterways Urges Everyone to Boat Responsibly as 2021 Boating Season Begins

Sacramento, CA… National Safe Boating Week is May 22-28, 2021. California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is reminding all recreational boaters and water enthusiasts during National Safe Boating Week, May 22-28, 2021, to boat responsibly this summer. With more people heading outdoors and onto California’s waterways during the ongoing pandemic, it is critical to remind everyone to follow safe boating practices, such as always wearing a life jacket.

Wearing a life jacket is the number one way to increase the chances of survival in an emergency, whether on a powerboat or paddlecraft. California boating accident statistics show that 81% of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets. Modern life jackets come in cool and comfortable styles and designs. There are many options for life jackets, but it is important to choose the right one for the intended boating activity.

“One of the simplest ways to keep you and your loved ones safe while out on the water is to wear your life jacket,” says DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “The best life jacket is the one you’re wearing.”

Below are some other safe boating practices recommended for all recreational boaters:

  • Take a safe boating course and get your California Boater Card. Even the most experienced boaters can learn from boating safety courses. As of Jan. 1, 2021, all operators of a motorized vessels on California waterways who are 40 years of age and younger are required to carry a lifetime boater card. By 2025, all operators of motorized vessels will be required to carry one regardless of age.
  • Inspect your life jacket. Check the label to make sure the life jacket has a U.S. Coast Guard approval number, is the appropriate size, and is the right type of life jacket for the intended boating activity.
  • Make sure you have the right safety equipment on board. Schedule a vessel safety check with your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons or download a virtual vessel safety check and inspect your boat yourself.
  • File a float plan before each boating trip. Share a float plan with a family member or friend with the details of your trip in the event of an emergency.
  • Check the weather. Know the latest weather forecast prior to going out and check regularly for changing conditions.
  • Stow it, don’t throw it. Keep your trash on-board. Never throw garbage into waterways. Take advantage of shore-side facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal and paper. Used fishing line can be deposited at fishing-line recycling stations.
  • Download helpful boating applications on your phone. The Boat CA App is a free mobile app that shows you boating facilities, life jacket loan stations, laws, boat registration and more.

DBW works with water safety partners throughout the state to offer programs to help ensure boaters have access to life jackets. For example, life jackets can be borrowed for free at one of over 100 local life jacket loaner stations throughout the state.

For more boating and water safety information along with the activities taking place for National Safe Boating Week, please visit BoatCalifornia.com.  For example, tomorrow (May 21) is #WearYourLifeJacketToWorkDay. DBW invites the public to wear a life jacket in their office setting, take a photograph and share it on social media.