Check Boat Safety Requirements before Launching

By Andy Whitcomb

Mar 12, 2018

Some boat safety requirements vary but here is a good place to start. 

Several aspects regarding boat safety requirements occur long before the trailer even is hooked up. Monitoring the weather forecast will help ensure that you and your passengers don’t have to risk battling high winds, rain, or lightning that may occur from sudden thunderstorm development for example. 

Another pre trip boat safety consideration is to do your homework as far as scouting and researching potential water hazards. Is the lake notorious for shallowly submerged boulders like Folsom Lake in California?  Has the water risen in this reservoir to hide stumps? Or, has the water dropped to reveal “new” rocks in the river that complicate channel navigation? Also, it is a good idea to not boat alone. At the very least, let someone know where you are going and when you are expected to return.

Legal boat safety equipment requirements vary by state and with the size of the boat and body of water but all include appropriately sized life jackets, signaling devices, a first aid kit, extra rope, VHF radio or at least a cell phone, and a fire extinguisher as core components. When I renewed my boat registration, I was sent a handy “Boating Handbook” which was crammed full of the state’s official boat safety requirements.  For example, it contained “safe operation” definitions regarding speed, areas, and conditions, even including Department of Homeland Safety boat safety requirements like warnings to avoid getting too close to some dams.

Before hitting the water, check your boat safety equipment checklist. Then, check it again. You don’t want to discover that you have overlooked a component of your boat safety requirements when you are out on the water, when it may be too late.  No matter how great the fish are biting, it is not worth the risk. It is better to cut the trip short and stay safe to return and fish another day.
Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.