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Boating Safety: Tips & Checklist

There is a lot to love about the spring and summer, but when you’re a boat enthusiast the seasons bring more than just sunshine. It’s finally time to put your baby back in the water and spend your weekends at the lake house or out at sea. Each year when you head out on the water it’s important to make sure that you go through some safety checklists to make sure your watercraft is prepared properly in case of an emergency.

Below is a semi-annual Boat Safety Checklist to guide you along the way as you look at your watercraft. Make sure to also read your owner’s manual for more detailed instructions for your specific boat. Remember, one of the best things you can do to prevent corrosion on your boat is to protect it from constant contact with the water. A great way to do this is by docking on one of our floating boat lifts. If you have any questions, please contact us!

Fire Extinguishers

  • Have they been checked within the past year?
  • Is at least one accessible from the helm or cockpit?
  • Are you and your crew familiar with their operation?
  • Do you have all required quantities and types of fire extinguishers?
  • Are units accessible?
  • Are serviceable units tagged by a licensed facility?

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

  • As part of your pre-departure inspection of PFDs check for wear or abrasion, weak or torn seams, secure straps and buckles. Some types of PFDs are equipped with inflation devices; check to be sure cartridges are secure and charged.

Fuel System

  • Blower switch at remote location.
  • Is tank secured?
  • Engine compartment and engine clean and free of oily rags or flammable materials.
  • Hoses U.S.C.G. approved and free of cracking or stiffness with adequate slack to account for vibration.
  • Is the fuel tank free from rust or contamination?
  • No leaks from tank, hose or fittings.
  • Fuel shut-off valve on tank and at engine.
  • Is your fuel system protected from siphoning?
  • Is the system properly grounded at the filter, tank, deck, pump, etc.?


  • Batteries are well secured.
  • Stored in non-corrosive, liquid tight, ventilated containers.
  • Non-conductive covers are fitted over posts.


  • Compartment is ventilated overboard and below level of tank base.
  • Labeled and designated for marine use.
  • If built-in, properly insulated and free from combustible materials, CNG and LPG (propane).
  • Hoses, lines and fittings of approved and inspected type.
  • Proper labeling and cautions in place at tank location.
  • Stored in separate compartment from boat's interior and engine room.
  • Properly ventilated to remove carbon-monoxide from cabin.
  • Retainers or rails for pots and pans while underway.
  • Tightly secured shut-off valve at tank.

Safety Equipment

  • Lifelines or rails in good condition.
  • Stanchions or pulpit securely mounted.
  • Hardware tight and sealed at deck.
  • Grab rails secure and free of corrosion or snags that may catch your hands.
  • Non-skid surfaces free from accumulated dirt or excess wear.

Electrical System

  • Adequate flex between bulkhead and engine connections.
  • Protected against chafing and strain.
  • Wiring approved for marine applications.
  • System is protected by circuit breakers or fuses.
  • Wire terminals and connections sealed to prevent corrosion.
  • Grounds to Zincs if required.
  • Clear of exhaust system and bilge.
  • System is neatly bundled and secured.

Ground Tackle

  • Anchor and rode adequate for your boat and bottom conditions.
  • Length of chain at anchor.
  • Thimble on rode and safety wired shackles.
  • At least two anchors on board.
  • Chafing gear at chocks for extended stays or storm conditions.
  • Tackle properly secured.
  • Anchor stowed for quick accessibility.

Bilge Pumps

  • Do you check bilges frequently and not rely on automatic pumps?
  • Do you have a manual backup?
  • Will pump(s) adequately remove water in emergency?
  • Are bilges clean and free to circulate (clear limber holes)?


  • Anti-siphon valve fitted to marine toilet.
  • Inspect sea valves for smooth operation.
  • Hoses are in good condition and free from cracking.
  • Through-hull plugs are near fittings or attached to hose in case of emergency.
  • Double hose-clamps below the waterline.
  • Handles are attached to valves for quick closure.
  • Strainers, intakes and exhaust or discharge fittings are free from restrictions such as barnacles, marine growth or debris

Corrosion Prevention

  • Inspect the steering cables, engine control linkage and cables, engine mounts and gear case for corrosion.
  • Through-hulls are properly bonded.
  • Through-hulls, props, shafts, bearings, rudder fittings, and exposed fastenings free of non-destructive corrosion.
  • These items are properly lubricated or painted to prevent undue corrosion.
  • Zincs are adequate to provide protection.

This semi-annual Boating Safety Checklist was originally provided by Make sure to check out our Spring Boating Checklist too!

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