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Safety Afloat

Safety Afloat is the list of rules for boating activities laid out in the Guide to Safe Scouting. For a boating activity to be an official BSA activity, those guidelines must be followed. A good practice is to present the Saftey Afloat guidelines at a meeting before the activity. Then present them again at the waterfront before embarking on the boating outing. A handout can help scouts when presenting this information, since the complete rules in the Guide to Safe Scouting are very long.

Safety Afloat

Use this information as a supplement to a Safety Afloat seminar. See the BSA Guide to Safe Scouting for the complete list of rules for Safety Afloat.

Qualified Supervision

  • Supervisor must be age 21 or older
  • Supervisor must understand and knowingly accepts responsibility for the well-being and safety of those in his or her care
  • Supervisor must be trained in and committed to compliance with the nine points of BSA Safety Afloat.
  • Supervisor must be skilled in the safe operation of the craft for the specific activity, knowledgeable in accident prevention, and prepared for emergency situations.

Personal Health Review

  • Each scout and adult should present a health history form
  • Forms should be reviewed by the supervisor and any potential risks must be addressed.

Swimming Ability

  • You must be classified as a “swimmer” (by passing the BSA swimmer test) to participate in boating activities.
  • If you are not a swimmer, you may ride in a rowboat or motorboat with an adult who is classified as a swimmer or you may ride in a canoe, raft, or sailboat with an adult certified as a lifeguard or lifesaver.

Life Jackets

  • You must wear a PFD (personal flotation device) when participating in boating activities.

Buddy System

  • You must have a buddy.
  • Every boat must have a “buddy boat”.

Skill Proficiency

  • You must know how to handle your boat and be familiar with safety and emergency procedures.


  •  Plan ahead. Develop a float plan with your schedule and itinerary.
  • Include contingency plans in case conditions change.
  • Be aware of the weather.
  • Know the local regulations.
  • Share your float plan with parents and local authorities.


  • Your equipment must be in good repair
  • Your equipment must be appropriate for the type of craft and the water conditions.
  • Equipment must be appropriate for the people using it.


  • Rules are not meant to be broken.
  • Scouts must follow the directions of the supervisor.


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