Houseboat Safety 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Keeping Safe on the Water

Safety First in Voyageurs National Park

Houseboat Rental Safety Tips

Traveling via houseboat on Rainy Lake is sure to be a good time when done safely.

Common sense matters more than ever when you’re on the water. After all, you can’t simply walk away from an unsafe situation. Pay attention to the weather and the people in your party. Changing conditions are part of what makes Rainy Lake so alluring, but those changes may increase the chance of danger, which can put you and your group at risk.

The team at Rainy Lake Houseboats wants to keep you safe. Should a medical emergency occur when you’re on the lake in one of our houseboats, each houseboat is equipped with a marine band radio. Call us and we will respond with our service boat or by calling the National Park Service rangers, depending on what the situation and timing calls for.

Anyone who’s spent time on a large body of water knows that water has many sides to its personality. It can be serene, glassy and still. It can be bouncy and playful. But of course, water has a darker side. While Rainy Lake might not be home to the whitewater and oceanic waves found in mega lakes such as Lake Superior, it’s still a wild place where you may face storms and choppy water.

Before you head into the wilderness of Voyageurs National Park, take the grandeur of nature seriously. Below, you’ll learn about the importance of life jackets, staying safe in the event of severe weather and general best practices for houseboat safety.

Basic Houseboat Safety Tips

We want you to have an unforgettable experience on our houseboats — but only in a good way. That’s why it’s a great idea to review these adventure safety basics before leaving the shore.

Use the Life Jackets

All houseboats in our fleet come with enough life jackets for your whole party. Of course, you’re not expected to wear a life jacket at all times. However, we suggest that all children who don’t yet know how to swim wear a life jacket whenever they are out of the line of sight of a responsible adult.

A safe, effective life jacket is one that fits you well. Take the time to adjust a jacket on board to fit your size. If you bring small children along, have life jackets with you that are appropriate for their size.

You’ll also want to note the location of the throwing device on the houseboat so that you’re ready, should anyone in your party go overboard.

Track the Weather and React Accordingly

The weather in Voyageurs National Park can vary greatly throughout the year. Minnesota summers are famous for hot days and dramatic summer storms. Here are a few safety tips for all types of weather:

  • Remember to wear sunscreen when the weather is fine.
  • Listen to the weather report on your marine band radio in the morning before traveling anywhere for the day. Weather reports are available 24/7 from the National Weather Service and all our houseboats are equipped to hear this channel.
  • Pay attention to the skies. If you see a storm rolling in, head away from open water. Try to find a place that’s closer to shore to hunker down while the storm bears down.
  • Do not try to beach the houseboat if caught in a storm.
  • During storms, everyone should stay in the cabin. Stormy weather is a great time to break out the playing cards.

Houseboat Keeping

To minimize the danger of anyone going overboard, and to keep everyone safe while on the water, there are a few things that all passengers can do.

  • Keep trip hazards off the deck
  • Clean up spills to avoid slippage
  • Latch any gates to keep young passengers contained

Don’t Drink and Drive

Always have a sober pilot manning the houseboat controls. 40% of all accidents involve alcohol.

Houseboat Emergency Procedures

While Rainy Lake Houseboats typically make for happy memories, here are a few safety procedures before adventuring into the wild to maintain safety.

Fire Safety Protocol

All of our boats are outfitted with current fire extinguishers, ready for an emergency. Before embarking on your journey, note where the fire extinguishers are located throughout the boat. If you are boating and a fire starts, don’t panic. Follow these steps:

  1. If moving, stop the boat and flag down passing boats for help. If moored, evacuate to the shore.
  2. Get the fire extinguisher and do the following:
    • Aim the extinguisher at the base of the flame.
    • Pull the pin and squeeze the two levers together to activate the extinguisher
    • Use a sweeping motion to cover the base of the fire.
    • Continue using the extinguisher until the fire is completely extinguished.
  3.  Contact base immediately. Fire boats are at the marina and can come assist you.

After any fire incident, call Rainy Lake Houseboats to report it.

Storm Procedure

When the weather gets bad, it’s best to not be moving at all. If you have been traveling and the weather is turning, immediately find a spot to moor your houseboat on shore and contact base via marine band radio. Use additional lines from your houseboat’s anchor to reinforce mooring lines if the wind is coming in harder from one side.

Make sure your whole group stays inside during inclement weather.

Do you have questions? Check out our FAQ so you can prepare for your adventure with confidence.

Bon Voyage!

Now that you have our houseboat safety tips in mind, you’re ready for your Rainy Lake adventure. Have any questions about what goes into exploring the many waters of Voyageurs National Park via houseboat? Check out this page to learn more about basic rental information and other Rainy Lake offerings. As always, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and experienced team with any questions or concerns.