Utah experts share life-saving boat safety tips

May 14, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:50 pm

Yardley Makefield Marine Rescue leaving the Yardley Boat Ramp along N. River Road heading down the ...

Yardley Makefield Marine Rescue leaving the Yardley Boat Ramp along N. River Road heading down the Delaware River on Monday morning July 17, 2023, in Yardley, Pa. Search and rescue units are looking for two lost children caught in flood waters Saturday. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

(Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — As temperatures rise, the waves beckon boaters and skiers. But will you know what to do and have the needed items aboard in case of an emergency? Two Utah experts share their knowledge and experience about boat safety.

Ty Hunter, boating program manager, and Steve Bullock, chief of law enforcement for the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation, discussed  boat and people safety tips with KSL NewsRadio’s Dave and Dujanovic.


Hunter said boaters could speed as fast as they like on open waters but must slow to a wake-less idle if they are within 150 feet of other boats, a dock, a boat ramp, anglers on shore or a skier down.

“Even retrieving your own skier, approach them slowly and that’ll be able to prevent most, if not all, of our collision incidences,” he said.

Hunter’s advice to boaters: Slow down, you are on vacation.

He said to check the weather forecast before heading out on the water as it can change quickly in Utah, especially at higher elevations.

Boat safety items to carry onboard

Nationally, 80% of people who drowned in boating accidents would have survived had they been wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), according to the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation. 

Utah law states there must be at least one properly-sized U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person aboard a vessel. Also, 12-years-old and younger passengers must wear a properly-sized Coast Guard-approved life jacket whenever a boat is in operation.

According to the Presonal blog, in addition to PFDs, boaters should also carry aboard:

  • Food and water
  • Distress signals
  • Tools and spare parts
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First aid kit
  • Radio to receive weather updates
  • Flashlight and spare batteries

Boaters should  also carry PFDs that are throwable devices or life savers for people in the water. A throwable device is required for all boats over 16 feet in length, Bullock said.

“A lot of times it looks like a square seat cushion. It’s rated by the Coast Guard for certain amount of flotation. It’s easy to throw. A lot of times when you try to throw a life jacket that kind of twirls in the wind. This has a little bit more weight and heft to it so you can get it to somebody,” he said.

If you see someone struggling in the water, throw them a PDF but never jump in to save a person without putting on a life jacket first, Bullock said.

A throwable device is “just a basic piece of safety equipment that we want everybody to have on their boats.”

Don’t drink and drive a boat 

Boating under the influence (BUI) is the same as driving under the influence. The same penalties apply, including suspension of driver’s license, possible jail time and fines, says the Utah Division of Outdoor Recreation. If arrested, your boat, trailer and tow vehicle may be impounded.


Reward offered for Strawberry Walleye invasion

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Utah experts share life-saving boat safety tips