Tips to Stay Safe on the Water

Stay Safe on the Water with these Tips, Resources

When swimming, kayaking, boating or fishing, put safety first and never underestimate weather, water conditions, or the value of a life jacket.
Strong currents can happen in all water types and depths, even shallow water.  If you’re unsure about water conditions, check with local authorities or an area boat rental, marina or outdoor gear retailer.  Above all, pay attention.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check the Great Lakes Surface Currents Map for real-time visuals of currents in the Great Lakes, or river flow rates through the U.S. Geological Survey.

  • Make sure your boat, kayak or canoe is properly equipped with life jackets, fire extinguishers and a first aid kit, plus nautical charts if you’re on the Great Lakes.

  • Leave a float plan, including your planned route and scheduled check-in times, with someone on shore.

  • Boat sober – 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.

  • Boaters born after June 30, 1996 must complete an approved boater safety education course to operate a motorized vessel, in addition to anyone born after Dec. 31, 1978 who plans to operate a personal watercraft (such as a Jet Ski).  Boater safety education is available as an online or face-to-face class.

See a more complete list of swimming and boating safety tips and information about Michigan’s life jacket laws at the DNR’s page.