A Boat Safety Equipment Checklist Reminder

By Andy Whitcomb

May 17, 2022

Prior to any time on the water, it is important to go over your boat safety equipment checklist. Checklists differ but these items are always included.

Summer is rapidly approaching and time on the water is sure to make the “highlight reel” of summer memories. To ensure these outings are remembered for fun recreation and not due to some unfortunate safety issue, go over your boat safety equipment checklist. If you don’t have a boating safety equipment checklist, make one now. Hastily scrambling for items on the day of the boat trip can mean delayed fun or perhaps even put you and your passengers at risk.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes so there is no one safety equipment checklist for boats. For example, boats less than 16 feet long may have different requirements than longer boats. The size of the body of water where the boat is operated also is a factor. For big bodies of water, check the Coast Guard boat safety equipment checklist. No matter what the boat or water, here are some items that make any boat safety equipment checklist.

1. Life Jackets

Also known as PFDs, there should be a life jacket available for each passenger. Some boat owners invest in an assortment to allow for visitors; my kids take their own personal floatation devices whenever they go boating with others to make sure they have one that fits and is in good condition.

2. Signaling Device

For smaller boats, gaining helpful attention may be as simple as a whistle. For larger boats, larger bodies of water, signaling flares may be required.

3. 1st Aid Kit

Everyone aboard needs to know where the kit is located. Even during solo kayak trips, have a space saving version handy. Also, check expiration dates and quality of contents because it is easily overlooked each season.

4. Cell Phone

Some form of electronic communication is a valuable piece of safety equipment. Store it in a water-tight container in case your small boat gets flipped. Larger boats should have VHR radios too.

5. Extra Rope

Beyond handy for a variety of safety scenarios, extra rope can help you get towed, or allow you to tow another boat in trouble.

As mentioned earlier, this boat safety equipment checklist is not inclusive. Safety checklists for larger boats will include items like fire extinguishers, signaling flags, and, if out at night, proper lighting. However, the above basics need to be examined and ready to go for your fun, safe time on the water.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org 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.