As the heat of summer is on full display, the Washington State Parks Boating Program urges boaters and paddlers to take important steps to safely and responsibly recreate on the water, including wearing a life jacket at all times.

In the last 30 days, 25 recreational boating accidents and five fatalities have occurred across the state. Earlier this week, a jet skier used his rooster tail to mostly douse the fire on a boat that had burst into flames off the Richland shore.

“We are asking all boat and paddlecraft owners and operators to help reduce fatalities and injuries on the water,” said Rob Sendak. “Boaters need to take personal responsibility for their own safety as well as the safety of their passengers.”

According to Washington’s recreational boating accident data, in the last five years, trends show most accidents and fatalities happen between May and August, and 75% of fatality victims were not wearing a life jacket.

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, as of May, boat sales are the highest they’ve been in a decade. Boat rentals have increased, too. Keith Lemley, owner of a local Freedom Boat Club franchise, recently reported a 30% increase in boat rentals and a 50% increase in new memberships.

Northwest Paddleboarding in Richland says their paddleboard and kayak rental business is through the roof this summer despite the challenges of COVID-19.

The Boating Program offers the following tips as essential steps to recreate safely on the water:

  • Get educated and know navigational rules, emergency procedures and basics of safety on the water. Learn more at
  • Share a float plan with a family member or friend with the details of your trip in the event of an emergency. Learn more.
  • Always wear a life jacket that is properly fitted and U.S. Coast Guard-approved. Learn more at
  • Carry all required safety equipment such as flares, navigation light, a horn or whistle, and a first aid kit. Learn more at
  • Stay sober and alert. Learn more at
  • Follow state and local public health guidelines for outdoor recreation. Be adaptable and flexible to rapidly changing situations. Learn more.
  • Be patient at boat launches and other water access sites. If you find the parking lot is full, find somewhere else to go or return home. Learn more at

About the Washington State Boating Program

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission administers the state’s Boating Program, which provides leadership in boating safety and environmental education and outreach. The goal of the program is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of Washington waterways, and keep recreational boating a safe, accessible and enjoyable pastime.

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