Safety Afloat

Scouts participating in water sports and activities


Swimming, kayaking, or any aquatic activity will have potential hazards, even for advanced participants. Lives can be saved with proper supervision and training; lives can be and have been lost by not following Safety Afloat practices.


Safety Afloat training is designed for all authorized boating activities.* Adult leaders supervising those activities have completed their Safety Afloat training within the previous two years.

A summary of the nine points of Safety Afloat includes:

  1. Qualified Supervision—Supervision by an adult, 21 or older, who is trained in BSA Safety Afloat. Leadership is provided in ratios of one trained adult per 10 participants; for Cub Scouts, it is 1:5. At least one leader must be trained in first aid that includes CPR. Any swimming done in conjunction with the activity must be within BSA Safe Swim Defense standards.
  2. Personal Health Review—Complete health history will be needed. Are there any restrictions on the part of the participant?
  3. Swimming Ability—Complete an annual swim test. Do you know what that is?
  4. Life Jackets—Properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard–approved life jackets are worn by everyone engaged in boating activities.
  5. Buddy System—Make sure each member is accounted for, especially when in the water.
  6. Skill Proficiency—Everyone in an activity afloat must have sufficient knowledge and skill to participate safely.
  7. Planning—Check for weather and contingencies as needed prior to your activity.
  8. Equipment—All craft must be suitable for the activity, be seaworthy, and be capable of floating if capsized.
  9. Discipline—Remember that rules are only effective when they are followed.

Review the age-appropriate guidelines for afloat activities for Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA, Venturing, and Sea Scouting.

*Parasailing, kite-surfing, and unit-level use of personal watercraft are not authorized activities.