ODNR Reminds Boaters to Keep What Matters Afloat

As the summer boating season approaches, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) underscores the critical importance of boating safety and wearing a life jacket by being an active participant in the National Safe Boating Week campaign, which runs from May 18-24.

“Whether you’re a seasoned boater or new to the water, safety must always be a top priority,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “By taking simple precautions and brushing up on boating safety skills, we can ensure that every outing on the water remains enjoyable and safe for all.”

According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, drowning accounted for three out of every four recreational boating fatalities, with 85 percent of victims not wearing life jackets. In Ohio, all 10 boating fatalities in 2023 were due to drowning, with none of the victims wearing life jackets.

“Today’s life jackets offer improved comfort, style, and mobility, making them essential safety gear for all water activities,” said Mertz. “As we anticipate a vibrant boating season in Ohio, now is the time to refresh our knowledge of boating safety to ensure a day of fun stays just that.”

To enhance safety on the water, ODNR and the National Safe Boating Council recommend the following tips for boaters:

  • Always wear a life jacket and ensure everyone onboard does the same.
  • Participate in a boating safety course to acquire essential knowledge and skills.
  • Carry all required safety equipment and inspect it regularly for damage.
  • File a float plan detailing trip itinerary and passenger information.
  • Stay informed about weather and water conditions before setting out.
  • Boat sober and be considerate of others on the water.
  • Utilize engine cut-off devices to prevent accidents in case of operator falls overboard.
  • Familiarize yourself with boating laws and rules by reviewing the Ohio Boat Operator’s Guide.

In addition to offering boating safety courses, ODNR’s Natural Resource Officers provide complimentary boat safety inspections and on-the-water patrols to assist boaters. Earlier this spring, over 40 officers from various law enforcement agencies, including 10 new ODNR officers, completed Ohio’s Basic Marine Patrol Training course.

For further information on safe boating practices and resources, visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov/boating.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, and conservation of Ohio’s 75 state parks and waterways.

In 2024, join ODNR as we celebrate 75 years of protecting Ohio’s natural resources and providing outstanding and award-winning recreational opportunities.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.