Summertime Boating Safety

Posted at 3:30 p.m.


During the summer, many of us spend time on the water in all types of boats. However, we all need to be prepared before heading out on the water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), operator error, lack of training and alcohol use contribute to the risk of drowning in a boating incident. And, nearly 85 percent of those who drown while boating were not wearing a life jacket.

As part of our series of National Safety Month messages, Fairfax County’s Risk Management Division and Office of Emergency Management encourage you to take steps today to stay healthy and injury-free while out on the water.

Be Prepared for Boating

  • June is National Safety MonthLearn to swim. Take lessons from a qualified aquatics instructor at a Park Authority ReCenter.
  • Know the local weather conditions and forecast before boating.
  • Before boating, take a U.S. Coast Guard approved boater safety course. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries offers boater safety classes.
  • Use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFD’s) when boating, regardless of distance to be traveled, size of boat, or swimming ability of boaters.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size, especially for children. Children under 13 must wear life jackets at all times while boating.
  • One wearable PFD is required per person while boating. There also may be requirements for “throwables” (ring buoys/seat cushions).
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before or during any boating activity and never drink alcohol while supervising children.
  • When near or on the water, always bring a cell phone and know how to contact emergency services. If you have a police, fire or medical emergency, call 9-1-1. For non-emergency needs, call 703-691-2131.

More information from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

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3 responses to “Summertime Boating Safety”

  1. Fred Sanborn says :

    Why no mention of the Fairfax Couny Marine Patrol? They are on the water everyday all Summer long. They not only provide homeland security but also educate boaters to safely operate their boat or personal watercraft.

    • fairfaxcounty says :

      Thanks Fred for the comment. The purpose of this article was to specifically address summertime boating safety and to provide boating safety reminders in a quick video.

      As you know, the Police Department’s Marine Patrol Unit patrols the waterways of the county and possesses water-related skills and equipment that are used on behalf of the boating community. The unit is the only full-time local law enforcement marine patrol in Northern Virginia’s waters and operates year-round.

      For a good overview, check out this video at; more information on the unit is at