Boat Safety


Since it's a recreational activity, most boating is done in calm protected waters and during good weather. Even so, conditions can change rapidly, and a small vessel can get into life-threatening difficulties. It's important to keep an inventory of safety gear on board every boat, which is prescribed by the U.S. Coast Guard as well as state boating law administrators in the U.S. Depending on the size of the boat and how it is powered, required equipment may include:

  • personal flotation devices (PFDs or life jackets) for everyone on board
  • a throwable flotation device (in the U.S., a Type IV PFD)
  • navigation lights suitable for the type of boat operation
  • visual distress signals (VSDs) which are effective both day and night
  • sound-making devices including horns and bells
  • fire extinguisher(s)
  • a copy of the Inland Rules of the Road

Other items might seem obvious but are not actually required by law. They include a flashlight, first aid kit, paddles, whistles, anchor and rope, engine spare parts, bilge pumps, a VHF radio or mobile phone, etc.

In addition to these safety items listed above, the Code of Federal Regulations lists some additional required items that may not fall into the common definition of "safety" items:

  • backfire arresters on gasoline-powered vessels
  • ventilation systems on gasoline-powered vessels
  • plaques which list the penalties associated with pollution due to oil discharge, or dumping trash overboard.
  • a marine sanitation system (MSD) which prevents water pollution from sewage

Related Pages

External Links & References

  1. Wikipedia Article
  2. Boat Safe
  3. Sea Town Fundation
  4. Novice Boating Advice
  5. USCG Boating Safety
  6. Trolling Battery Center Boating Safety Page
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