National Safe Boating Week is May 18-24, 2024

By Kyrie Collins, Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher May 20, 2024

As boat ramps open and warm temperatures entice people to get outdoors and recreate on the water, National Safe Boating Week is a great reminder to think "safety first" when out on the water this season. 

Water-based recreation remains a popular pastime in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is promoting safe boating tips to educate outdoor enthusiasts on how to stay safe in Colorado waters while enjoying water sports such as power boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, and more.

Colorado law requires that all vessels have a life jacket of an appropriate size readily accessible for every person on board. Paddle boards and kayaks are considered vessels, and life jacket requirements apply. Children aged 12 and under must always wear a life jacket when on the water.

"We recommend that all boaters and passengers wear a life jacket while on the water," said Grant Brown, CPW's Boating Safety Program Manager. "Regardless of your age or experience level, the data shows that life jackets save lives. Wearing a life jacket is especially important when water temperatures are below 70 degrees."

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning is the reported cause of death in 81% of all boating fatalities, and approximately 83% of those who drown are not wearing life jackets. Visit the Safe Boating Campaign website to learn which life jacket style may be correct for you.

The Safe Boating Campaign and Colorado Parks and Wildlife advise following these safety tips:

  1. Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket whenever you are on the water.
  2. Take a boating safety course. Learn valuable tips to help save your life in unexpected situations by taking a NASBLA (National Association of Boating Law Administrators) approved boating safety course.
  3. Make sure your boat is prepared with all required safety gear. Many items need to be checked and rechecked.
  4. Know your vessel's capacity. If you have too much on your boat, it may become unstable and capsize.
  5. Check the weather, including the water temperature. Keep a regular check for changing conditions.
  6. Dress properly. Always dress for the weather, wear layers for cooler weather, and bring extra clothes in case you get wet.
  7. Always file a float plan with someone you trust, including details about the trip, boat, persons, towing or trailer vehicle, communication equipment, and emergency contacts.
  8. Always follow navigation rules and techniques.
  9. Don't drink alcohol while boating. Alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.
  10. Get a safety inspection of your vessel.
  11. Beware of carbon monoxide poisoning. Gasoline-powered engines on boats, including onboard generators, produce carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can poison or kill someone who breathes too much of it.
  12. Keep in touch. Communication devices can be the most critical piece of emergency equipment on board a vessel, especially in case of emergency.

New boating age law

A new law goes into effect on June 1, 2024, prohibiting the operation of a motorboat, including a personal watercraft (PWC/jet ski), by a person who is less than 18 years of age. Those at least 14 years of age but less than 18 may operate a motorboat if they have completed a boating safety course approved by CPW and possess a boating safety certificate issued by the boating safety course provider.

Before boating in Colorado, it is essential to familiarize yourself with Colorado's boating rules and regulations. Following proper safety procedures will help ensure a fun and safe season.

To help ensure a great boating season, follow safety principles and always wear a life jacket. To learn more about boating in Colorado, please visit the CPW Boating page.

For more information about boating safety and life jacket wear, visit and follow them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Source for statistics: Boating Safety Facts