Off-Season Boating Safety Tips


The California Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) urges boaters to continue operating safely during the months of October through April.  The ocean and lake temperatures are their coldest this time of year and even a strong swimmer can experience difficulty if they accidentally find themselves in cold water.

Last year, over half of boating fatalities in California occurred between October and April. Over 75 percent of boating fatalities involved capsizing, boaters falling overboard or vessels flooding or swamping.

Here are some helpful tips to keep you safe while fishing this season:

  • Before you go boating, check the local “weather, sea and wave” conditions.
  • File a float plan to let someone know where you expect to be, and when you expect to return.
  • Properly load your vessel.
    • Look at the capacity plate on your boat and do not exceed the limits.
  • Wear a life jacket. It can dramatically increase your chances of survival.
    • Sudden immersion in ice-cold water can cause temporary paralysis and drowning.
    • Anglers often wear heavy clothes during the cold months making it difficult to swim.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption while boating and fishing.
    • Intoxicated boaters often put themselves in dangerous situations such as leaning over, or sitting on gunwales, or jumping from one vessel to another.
    • Intoxicated passengers also often stand in or move about in vessels resulting in falls overboard, or causing the boat to capsize, placing all aboard in danger.
    • Anyone who drinks alcohol on board is at risk.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Keep a sharp lookout.
  • Advise passengers about the boating safety rules.

The best way to survive an accidental cold water immersion is to wear your life jacket. It will help keep your head above water in the event of an accidental immersion until you can get your breathing under control. It will also keep you afloat while you concentrate on rescuing yourself. If you are unable to rescue yourself, your life jacket can provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia and keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.

Remember…“If It’s Your Boat, It’s Your Responsibility”.