Top 5 Boating Tips for the Fourth of July Weekend

Fourth of July weekend draws a high number of boating enthusiasts to California’s lakes, rivers and miles of coastline. Nearly 15% of all boating accidents each year occur during the summer holiday weekends. The California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) has some great tips for boaters to stay safe this coming holiday weekend:

  1. Wear a Lifejacket
    Wearing a properly fitted, Coast Guard-approved life jacket won’t just help save your life; it may also be required by law. Drought conditions may reduce water levels, but not the dangers. So no matter how low water levels are, wear a life jacket, especially with children and on cold or fast inland waters where lifeguards are not stationed. Even when cooling off in the water, boaters should be alert for rip currents and sneaker waves. For information on what life jacket is appropriate for you and your activity, please visit:

  2. Conserve Water
    With record-setting drought conditions, it is imperative that we all do our part to conserve water. DBW is doing its part in this effort and we encourage boaters to do the same. Repurpose unused water from your trip and skip the boat wash when you get home. Unless you need to rinse the salt water, just wipe the boat down with a damp cloth!

  3. Low Water Hazards
    Recreational boating has been impacted by the drought. When on the water this weekend, adjust your boating activities to the drought conditions. Areas that were easily boated a year ago may be dangerous this year. Keep a proper lookout for trees, snags, sandbars, etc.

  4. Plan Ahead
    Boaters should plan ahead and find out if their favorite boating spot has any operating restrictions as a result of the drought conditions. If you opt to boat in a river or ocean, remember that operating vessels in these environments is very different than in lakes. Check navigation maps for conditions, and better yet, invite someone with local experience to show you how to safely boat in unfamiliar areas.

  5. Alcohol
    The side effects of alcohol – impaired judgment, reduced balance, poor coordination – can be magnified by the boating environment of sun, wave action and dehydration. Check for local rules; alcohol is banned on some waterways at holiday periods. If you do drink, wear a life jacket.

    We hope that your Fourth of July weekend, and your entire summer, is a safe and fun-filled adventure! For updates on California boating, please visit, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.