From floating down the Ohio River to cruising the waters of Lake Erie, safety is of utmost importance any time you are on a boat. It is important for both boat owners and boat passengers to follow safety rules while enjoying the water this summer. All boaters need to know and follow these five basic boating safety rules every time they take the boat out on the water.


Bring the Right Boating Safety Equipment


Everyone on board a boat needs to wear a life jacket — that fits properly — at all times. Make sure everyone also secures the jacket; the jacket will not be as effectively unbuckled.

It is a good idea — and depending on the boat, may be required by law — to have a fire extinguisher on board, especially on motor boats. You may also want to consider other safety equipment such as inflatable emergency rafts, first aid kits, lights, signals, and flags for your boat-specific type.


Take a Boating Safety Course


Ohio boating law requires all boaters born on or after January 1, 1982, to take a boating safety course. Even if you do not own or operate a boat, if you are a frequent passenger, it is a good idea to take the course to familiarize yourself with basic boater safety in the event your captain becomes incapacitated. The home study boating safety course is free to take at home.


Do Not Operate a Boat After Drinking


Drinking and boating is just as dangerous as drinking and driving. If you are piloting a boat, you should never do so while intoxicated. Passengers on a boat should also be careful about their alcohol consumption as it can lead to poor coordination and increase the risk of falling overboard or another injury.


Be Aware of Carbon Monoxide Risks


If you are traveling on a motor boat, you need to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) and the warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. CO can accumulate inside a poorly ventilated cabin, on deck from a blocked exhaust outlet or another boat’s exhaust outlet, and can even surround the boat when idling.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can look similar to seasickness or intoxication as it may cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness. Regular safety checks of your boat’s engine and exhaust systems can help prevent dangerous CO levels. If there is any doubt over whether a passenger is experiencing seasickness or CO poisoning, take action to treat CO exposure rather than waiting to see if her condition improves.


Know the Ohio Boating Laws


The State of Ohio has several boating laws in place to keep boaters and passengers safe on the water. The following are some of the basic Ohio boating laws:

  • The operator age requirements change with the type of watercraft; make sure you are of age to operate the boat or have the proper supervision when required.
  • As stated above, all boat operators born on or after January 1, 1982, must pass a boating safety course or proficiency test to earn the boater’s education certificate.
  • Boaters must obey all local law enforcement on public waters such as the Ohio River and Lake Erie.
  • Boat operators must report an accident that results in death, an injury that requires treatment at a health care facility, property damage of $500 or more, or complete destruction of a vessel.


If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, contact Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault. We have years of experience in helping victims of boating accidents and injuries. Call us for a Free Consultation at 419-843-6663.