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The California DBW Urges Everyone to Boat Responsibly

The California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) has issued a press release “reminding all recreational boaters and water enthusiasts during National Safe Boating Week, May 22-28, 2021, to boat responsibly this summer.” They said that as more people head outdoors and onto the waterways during the ongoing pandemic, it is critical to “remind everyone to follow safe boating practices, such as always wearing a lifejacket.”

“Wearing a lifejacket is the number one way to increase the chances of survival in an emergency. California boating accident statistics show that 81% of those who drowned were not wearing lifejackets. Modern lifejackets come in cool and comfortable styles and designs. There are many options, but it is important to choose the right one for the intended boating activity.”

“One of the simplest ways to keep you and your loved ones safe while out on the water is to wear your lifejacket,” says DBW Acting Deputy Director Ramona Fernandez. “The best lifejacket is the one you’re wearing.”

Yep! Everyone is encouraged to wear a lifejacket.
© 2021 Division of Boating and Waterways

Below are some other safe boating practices recommended by DBW for all recreational boaters:

  • Take a safe boating course and get your California Boater Card. Even the most experienced boaters can learn from boating safety courses. As of January 1, 2021, all operators of a motorized vessel on California waterways who are 40 years old or younger are required to carry a lifetime boater card. By 2025, all operators of motorized vessels will be required to carry one regardless of age
  • Inspect your lifejacket. Check the label to make sure it has a US Coast Guard approval number, is the appropriate size, and is the right type of lifejacket for the intended boating activity.
  • Make sure you have the right safety equipment on board. Schedule a vessel safety check with your local US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadrons, or download a virtual vessel safety check and inspect your boat yourself.
  • File a float plan before each boating trip. Share a float plan with the details of your trip with a family member or friend in the event of an emergency.
  • Check the weather. Know the latest weather forecast prior to going out and check regularly for changing conditions.
  • Stow it, don’t throw it. Keep your trash on board. Never throw garbage into waterways. Take advantage of shoreside facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal and paper. Used fishing line can be deposited at fishing-line recycling stations.
  • Download helpful boating applications on your phone. The BoatCA app is a free mobile app that shows you boating facilities, lifejacket loan stations, laws, boat registration info and more.
DWB app
The free app shows you the location of nearby boating facilities.
© 2021 Divison of Boating and Waterways

“DBW works with water safety partners throughout the state to offer programs to help ensure boaters have access to lifejackets. For example, life jackets can be borrowed for free at one of over 100 local lifejacket loaner stations throughout the state.”

You can find more boating and water safety information, along with the activities taking place for National Safe Boating Week, at

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