Thursday, September 3, 2015
Nothing can take the fun out of boating faster than an unexpected accident or emergency. What's even worse is to be caught unprepared. Making sure that you have all the proper safety equipment onboard is the best way to ensure that an unfortunate boating incident doesn't turn into a disaster. Here's what you will need based upon the U.S. Coast Guard’s Federal Requirements Brochure for Recreational Boaters:
It's hard to get help in an emergency if you can't identify your boat. That's why every boat is required to have its registration numbers attached to the boat in a prominent location and on both sides. The numbers should be at least three inches in height. You should also be carrying onboard paper documentation verifying the registration numbers and the boat's legal name.
Personal Flotation Devices
More commonly known as life jackets, personal floatation devices must be of a model that has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and in good condition. The sizes must be appropriate for all passengers, which means smaller sizes for children. The life jackets must be kept in a place on the boat where they can be quickly accessed in time of need.
Visual Distress Signals
Large boats of more than 16 feet are required to have pyrotechnic devices onboard that can be used to attract help in an emergency. Smaller boats are also recommended to have such devices, but it is not required. Flares can be a good choice for smaller boats. Often there are different requirements and different products designed for different size boats, with larger boats generally requiring more safety features. To learn more about the variety and availability of safety equipment for larger boats click here.
You may be floating in a setting surrounded by water, but that doesn't stop boats from catching on fire. Even the smallest boats should have an extinguisher aboard, with larger boats requiring more, especially if there is an enclosed living space or if your boat has permanently installed fuel tanks. Again, the extinguisher must be somewhere that is readily accessible.
If you have these safety items on your boat, then you are at least minimally prepared for a boating emergency. However, additional safety features may be required by states or counties, so know the requirements where you are to ensure legal and safe boating.