While on the water, a small boat operator prepares for safety by doing the following.
- Always put on a PFD before entering the watercraft, and keep it on throughout the outing.
- Never go out alone. Bring along at least one other boater. When canoeing, two canoes with two canoeists each are recommended. Three crafts with two persons each are even better. If unfamiliar with the waterway, go out with someone who is knowledgeable about it.
- Never overload the craft. Tie down gear, and distribute weight evenly.
- Make sure the craft is stable before you enter it.
- Maintain a low center of gravity and three points of contact. Keep your weight balanced over the center of the craft.
- Standing up or moving around in a small craft can cause it to capsize—a leading cause of fatalities among paddlers.
- Leaning a shoulder over the edge of the craft also can destabilize it enough to capsize it.
- Stay alert at all times and be aware of your surroundings, including nearby powerboats. Be prepared to react when dangerous situations arise.