Be sure to have enough life jackets on board for all passengers. Children under the age of 12 should wear their life jacket at times.
Keep a marine radio on board. Your VHF-FM Radio should be tuned to channel 16 for making emergency calls. Don't rely solely on a cell phone - you could easily reach an area without reception. If you do have an emergency, the proper call for a life and death situation is "Mayday, mayday, mayday" repeated three times. For additional protocol in calling for help in a boating emergency, visit Boat-ed.com
Check the weather for storms, tides and winds. Know what your vessel can handle before you head out.
Have a float plan. That means determine where you'll be boating and let someone on shore know your plans and who will be on your boat.
Stay sober. Always pack a cooler to keep fresh water and other refreshments. However, if you're the captain of the boat, it is imperative to operate the boat while sober. Boats don't have a set of brakes like a car does and accidents can happen swiftly.