Tips for Boaters this Labor Day Weekend

The Safe Boating Campaign, a worldwide effort focused on responsible boating led by the National Safe Boating Council, shares key tips for boaters to responsibly enjoy the high boating-traffic Labor Day weekend.

“Celebrate the end of summer with a fun and safe boating adventure with family and friends,” said Yvonne Pentz, communications director of the National Safe Boating Council. “No matter your age, wear a life jacket from the moment you reach the dock and while you’re out on the water.”

Boating safety advocates emphasize that boaters and passengers should wear a life jacket at all times while boating. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 86 percent of recreational boating drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket in 2020.

There are many options for boaters when it comes to choosing a life jacket. When selecting a life jacket, a boater should check that it is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for the water activity, and fits properly.

If purchasing a new life jacket, boaters may see a new label on the inside of the life jacket with a performance level icon versus the old “type” system life jacket label. The new label does not make life jackets with the old label obsolete. Boaters can continue to use their life jacket as long as it is in good condition, fits properly, and is appropriate for the activity. Learn more about the new life jacket label at

The Safe Boating Campaign shares these boating safety tips for Labor Day Weekend:

  • Wear a life jacket. Make sure everyone is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Never boat under the influence. A BUI is involved in one-third of all recreational boating fatalities.
  • Check equipment. Inventory equipment and make sure it is in good working condition.
  • Make a float plan. Always let a loved one know the trip itinerary, including operator and passenger information, boat type and registration, and communication equipment on board before leaving the dock.
  • Use an engine cut-off switch. An engine cut-off switch is a proven safety device to stop the powerboat’s engine should the operator unexpectedly fall overboard. And, it’s the law.
  • Watch the weather. Always check the forecast before departing on the water and frequently during the excursion.
  • Know what’s going on around you at all times. A quarter of all reported boating accidents in 2020 were caused by operator inattention or improper lookout.
  • Know where you’re going and travel at safe speeds. Be familiar with local boating speed zones and always travel at a safe speed.
  • Keep in touch. Cell phones, satellite phones, EPIRB or personal locator beacon, and VHF radios can all be important communication devices in an emergency.

The Safe Boating Campaign continues throughout the year with outreach efforts around the world. It is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. Partners, boating tips, and educational resources can be found at