In addition to making sure your boat equipment is in compliance with state law, make sure you are familiar with laws regarding boat operation and traditional navigational rules. Remember: Missouri law requires everyone born after January 1, 1984, who operates a vessel on Missouri lakes to possess an approved boating safety identification card. In 2018, there were 173 boating accidents reported in Missouri, with 101 injuries, and 16 fatalities. When boaters understand and obey the law, and vessels are in good operating order, everyone’s experience becomes safer.

A life jacket for everyone on board is a must! Children under seven years old are required to wear a personal flotation device in a boat, but you are never too old to wear a life jacket! Life jackets are now lighter, less obtrusive, and more comfortable than ever before. The new inflatable life jackets allow mobility and flexibility for activities like boating, fishing, or paddling, and are much cooler in the warmer weather. Although not required by law, children playing along the shoreline or on a dock should wear a life jacket. A drowning can occur quickly, with little or no sign the victim is struggling. Life jackets save lives, please wear yours!

It is important for each boat operator to know the capabilities of their boat. Reducing your speed in unfamiliar areas and being aware of unusual water conditions respective to the size and type of boat you operate are just a couple of environmental considerations.

Extended time in the sun and the constant motion of the water effects every vessel operator. It’s important to recognize the dangers of boater fatigue. Stay alert while enjoying Missouri’s lakes and rivers. Additionally, if you combine alcohol with boater fatigue your reaction time and thought process will be much slower. Designate a sober captain if you choose to consume alcohol.

Additional safe boating tips:

  1. Be a defensive boat operator … creating distance from other boats equals more reaction time.
  2. Adjust your speed for the conditions … if visibility is poor, or the water is rough, slow down!
  3. Turn off the boat while passengers are entering/exiting the water.
  4. If you will be out on the water after dark, check your navigation lights before you leave the dock or ramp.
  5. Each boat operator is responsible for doing whatever they can to avoid a crash. Don’t expect other boats to move out of your way.
  6. Be courteous with your wake.

Boaters are reminded to contact the Missouri State Highway Patrol by dialing *55 on a cellular phone if they need assistance or observe another boater operating
a vessel in an unsafe manner.

Watercraft operators must consider the effect their actions have on others: Share the waterway and use common sense, good judgment, and courtesy to ensure
the safety of all. Life jackets save lives. Wear it!