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.