Avoid Slips, Trips and Falls While Transitioning To and From Your Boat


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is one of the nation’s leading providers of outdoor recreation with over 400 lake and river projects and more than 250 million visits per year. One of the most noticeable trends Park Rangers see with water-related fatalities is a lack of a properly worn lifejacket. Almost 90% of all drowning victims were not wearing a lifejacket. For this reason, Park Rangers with the US Army Corps of Engineers continue to encourage EVERYONE to wear their lifejacket anytime they are around the water. Unfortunately a new trend is forming—the increase of FALLS. Falls contribute to 27% of boating fatalities and many of these falls occurred during the transition to or from a boat. Work to reverse the trend by following these tips and planning ahead to avoid slips, trips and falls.


Docking the Boat

Judge the current, wind, and water conditions. Take your time and proceed slowly—never approach a dock faster than you are willing to hit it.

If the docking is unsuccessful for the first approach, go around for the second time.

Never allow your passengers to stand on the front of the boat, you might have to quickly alter your approach, which could lead to them falling overboard. You are the captain of the boat, and are responsible for the safety of all of your guests.

Loading/ Unloading Your Boat

Leave all bags and supplies on the dock so that both of your hands are free.

Grab a handhold or something stable on the boat before stepping. It is helpful to have someone on hand to assist with boarding the boat and loading supplies.

Place your foot slowly onto the boat and transfer your weight. Place your second foot only after you’ve transferred most of your weight.

Make sure gear and people are positioned so that the weight is evenly distributed, and there are no tripping hazards on the boat. Avoid having gear moving about the boat, stow it in lockers, or lash it down.

Always Wear Your Lifejacket


Wearing a lifejacket is simply the most effective way to prevent a drowning. Wear a lifejacket anytime you are near the water, including on the dock.

Keep a Type IV throwable floatation device on board and know how to use it in the event one of your passengers goes overboard.


Boater's Hypnosis

After a long day out on the lake the motion of the boat, sunlight, waves, wind, and/or sound will effect a person’s abilities, balance, coordination, reflexes, eyesight, hearing and judgment. This effect is known as boater’s hypnosis. AVOID ALCOHOL, which will intensify the effects of boater hypnosis.

Slips trips and falls are becoming a common hazard while boating. Most of these accidents occur while transitioning to and from the boat. Every boat and every dock is built differently, and they all have different entry/exit points, different tie off spots, different hand holds, different heights, and different surfaces. While every fall cannot be preventable, being prepared can help make sure you and your family can enjoy the water safely!