Boating Safety

  • Boater Safety/Education Class - Before you hit the lake, consider enrolling your whole family in a boater education course. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) offers these courses throughout Texas, online and through home course kits. The programs, which are mandatory for children under 18 years of age, will teach your family the importance of boating safety and responsibility. Boat insurance companies will often provide discounts after you successfully complete the course.

    The Brazos River Authority provides Texas Parks and Wildlife-approved courses throughout the summer months at Lakes Granbury and Possum Kingdom. For a schedule of upcoming courses, contact your local reservoir office.
  • Texas License/Registration - If you own a boat, it is imperative that your vessel is registered and meets all requirements. All motorized boats, regardless of length, and sailboats that are 14 feet or longer or have an auxiliary motor must be registered with the state.
  • Personal Floatation Devices (life jackets/vests) - In Texas, children less than 13 years of age are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD) while boating. Both children and adults must wear lifejackets while on personal watercrafts.

    All boats, including canoes and kayaks, must have one suitable and approved PFD for each person onboard. There are several types of PFDs; be sure you and your family are familiar with which type is necessary for your next trip on the water.

    For a description and illustration of each type of PFD, please click here.
  • Lake map – A map of the lake you are visiting is as important as a PFD. A map can help you locate hazards, parks and marinas. Remember, Texas weather can change within minutes. Knowing your location and where to seek a safe port is imperative on Texas lakes.
  • Sound producing devices - These devices are needed to signal intentions and position during times when visibility is reduced. Boats less than 12 meters long (37.37 ft) are required to carry a whistle, horn or another sufficient sound-producing device.
  • Mirrors - If you own a motorboat you must have either an observer (someone other than the operator) or rearview mirrors installed. The rearview mirror must be at least four inches long and wide.
  • Lights - All vessels, including kayaks, canoes and rafts, must have at least one effective and bright light, lantern or flashlight displayed. The light must be visible all around the horizon from sunset to sunrise, in all weather conditions and during restricted visibility. Certain navigation lights are necessary on specific vessels as specified by the TPWD.
  • Fire extinguishers - All boats must carry a fire extinguisher onboard. The number of and type of fire extinguishers required for boats depends on the length of the boat, fuel tank location and type of engine. For additional information on Texas required boat lighting, please check the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website at www.tpwd.org.
  • Hazard/Navigational Buoys - Hazard and Navigation buoys are placed throughout the lake to alert you to potential hazards, water conditions, and restrictions. Click here for a buoy identification legend.