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Boater Safety Starts with You

The Coast Guard Foundation offers a free vessel ID decal for personal watercraft like kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddleboards.
Kayak w decal
Jen Fyke Web
by Jennifer Crowley Fyke
May 15, 2023

What steps can you take to have a fun, safe day on the water?

File a float plan: Before you start your activity, record your watercraft description, departure location, expected destination, and approximate time frame. Leave a copy of your plan with your marina, a close friend, or a family member. They can alert rescuers if you are out longer than expected and not responsive. The float plan can be as simple as a text, just as long as someone has the information should an emergency arise.

Wear a life jacket: Life jackets come in many designs, colors, styles, and materials. Some are made to stand up to rugged water sports, others to protect the wearer from cold-water temperatures. Be sure to choose one appropriate for your body size, planned activities, and the water conditions you expect to encounter.

Affix a watercraft vessel ID sticker to your canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard: The Coast Guard Foundation, as well as the Coast Guard Auxiliary and some state and local agencies, offer versions of an orange vessel identification sticker that helps first responders locate watercraft owners when they are found adrift. Take the time to request one so you can add it to your watercraft now. We fulfill requests within three weeks of receipt.

Sign up to receive a free vessel identification sticker from the Coast Guard Foundation.

How do I use a vessel identification sticker?

  • Use a black waterproof permanent marker
  • List your name and two phone numbers where you and a contact can be reached if your watercraft is found unattended
  • Identify and clean an area of your watercraft that is easily visible and affix the sticker
Learn more about boater safety

With appreciation to the Dr. Leslie Daniel Maxim Fund for Boater Safety

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