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Safety Resources

Each year hundreds of lives are lost... thousands are injured... and millions of dollars of property damage occurs because of preventable recreational boating accidents on U.S. waterways.  Too often pleasure outings turn tragic. You — as a boat operator or passenger — can make a difference.

The following boating resources are provided for your convenience:

  1. A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats And Safety Tips (PDF)
    Owners and operators of recreational boats must make sure that their vessel carries the required safety equipment (carriage requirement) and is in compliance with federal and state regulations.  This 84-page booklet contains detailed information on the minimum federal safety equipment requirements, along with a Quick Reference Chart, and Pre-Departure Checklist, safety tips and additional safety equipment recommendations.  To ensure compliance with state boating laws, you should contact the appropriate boating agency in your area for additional information.

  2. Accident Reporting
    Federal Law requires the operator -- or owner, if the operator is deceased or unable to make the report -- to file a boating accident report with your State reporting authority when, as a result of an occurence that involves a boat or its equipment: a person dies; a person disappears from the vessel under circumstances that indicate death or injury; a person is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid; damage to vessels and other property totals $2,000 (lower amounts in some states and territories) or more; the boat is destroyed.  Get the "Recreational Boating Accident Report" form.

  3. Boating Safety Courses
    Operator errors account for 70% of boating accidents.  Courses are available for everyone from skippers to crew — locate the flotilla nearest you to make arrangements to take a course.

  4. Obtaining A Free MMSI number
    The MMSI number is a bit like a phone number for your boat, and all DSC capable equipment (including AIS units) associated with the specific vessel should use the same MMSI number, since the MMSI serves to identify the vessel, not the equipment.  If you sell your boat, the MMSI number is normally transferred with it.  Without an MMSI, the digital functions on a DSC-equipped VHF radio will not function
    In order to obtain an MMSI, mariners not required to carry a marine radio (e.g. recreational boaters) and who remain in U.S. waters can obtain an MMSI through approved organizations such as BOAT US 1-800-563-1536, SEA TOW 1-800-4SEATOW, U.S. Power Squadron, and Shine Micro (primarily for AIS).  Most of these organizations provide MMSIs at no charge even to nonmembers.

  5. U.S. 401MHz Beacon Registration
    If you are planning to sail or cruse on a lake, river, off-shore or make a run up or down the coast or waterway, you need an EPIRB onboard and PLBs on your life jacket(s).  This website will provide you with all the information you need to initially register beacon(s), periodically update your registration information, or dispose of your EPIRB and PLB.  Additional information includes FAQ, information about the SARSAT system, and more.

  6. U.S. Aids To Navigation System Guide
    The U.S. Aids to Navigation System is a system maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, consisting of visual, audible, and electronic signals which are designed to assist the prudent mariner in the process of navigation.  The aids to navigation system is not intended to identify every shoal or obstruction to navigation which exists in the navigable waters of the United States, but rather provides for reasonable marking of marine features as resources permit.

  7. U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety App
    As the nation's recreational boating safety coordinator, the Coast Guard works to minimize loss of life, personal injury, property damage, and environmental harm.  Our boating safety program involves public education programs, regulation of boat design and construction, approval of boating safety equipment, and vessel safety checks for compliance with federal and state safety requirements.  The Coast Guard Mobile App supports these missions by providing the essential services and information most commonly requested by boaters.

    The Boating Safety Mobile app was not designed to replace a boater's marine VHF radio, which the Coast Guard strongly recommends all boaters have aboard their vessels.  The app was designed to provide additional boating safety resources for mobile device users.

  8. Vessel Safety Check
    Learn how a free annual vessel safety check can help you ensure your vessel is properly equipped and meets both federal and state boating safety requirements.


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