Drowning is the cause of death in 79 percent* of all boating-related fatalities.
In 2020, there were 181 Michigan boating accidents reported, including:
- 33 fatalities - only 21% of people were wearing a life jacket
- 20 drownings
- $2,188,237 of property damage
Important Safety Tips
Appropriately wearing the correct fitting life jacket and riding with an operator who has successfully completed an accredited boater safety education program reduces the risk of recreational boating accidents and drowning.
The top five contributing factors in boating accidents are:
- Operator inattention.
- Improper lookout.
- Operator inexperience.
- Excessive speed.
- Alcohol use.
Wear a life jacket
- Accidents happen, be prepared. Life jackets float - you don't.
- Drowning was reported as the cause of death in 79 percent* of all fatalities - meaning that four out of five people died from drowning.
- 86 percent* of people who drowned in a recreational boating accident were not wearing a life jacket.
- Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 23 percent* of deaths.
- Alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
Check your boat before going out on the water
- Make sure the boat is properly equipped and equipment is in good working condition.
- In addition to legally required equipment such as life jackets and fire extinguishers, always carry a first-aid kit, nautical charts and an anchor.
- Make sure navigation lights work properly.
- Ensure the cabin of your vessel has appropriate ventilation to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning.
Have a float plan
Inform someone who is not boating with you about the details of your trip, including:
- Where you will be boating and the route you plan to travel
- How long you will be gone
- When you plan to return
- Schedule check-in times
- Phone numbers for the local emergency dispatch center and U.S. Coast Guard in case you don't return on time
- Watch for other boats, swimmers, skiers and objects in the water. This is especially true when operating in crowded waterways, at night and when visibility is restricted.
- Be aware of commercial fishing nets and buoys. Orange flagging may indicate a net is located in the water. Nets can also break away and float at the surface of the water, causing entanglements with boats.
Carry a cell phone or marine radio
Be prepared to call for help if:
- You are involved in or witness an accident
- Your boat or the boat of another becomes disabled
- You need medical assistance
Additional Safety Information
- Electric Shock Drowning
You are at risk by entering the water near a boat or dock powered by electricity.
- Great Lakes beach safety
Rip currents, high waves and other dangerous currents and wave conditions can occur in the Great Lakes.
- Boating Safety Certificate
Boaters born after June 30, 1996 and most personal watercraft operators must have a boating education card (boating safety certificate).
- Rules and Regulations
It is your responsibility to know the rules and regulations before you go boating.
- High Water Safety
Rising water levels on lakes, rivers and streams can present hazards for boaters, swimmers and others.