How About a More Detailed Look at Boat Safety Equipment?
Life jackets and Personal Floatation Devices
The best life jacket is the one you will wear, but adults are not required to wear their life jackets at all times. This said, \a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket is required on board for each person. Lifejacket regulations for children may vary by state; however, in states with no children’s life jacket law, a US Coast Guard interim rule requires children under 13 on moving boats to wear a well-fitting US Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Lifejackets must be:
- The appropriate size for the intended user,
- Suitable for the intended activity,
- In good and serviceable condition, and
- US Coast Guard approved to meet carriage requirements.
Additionally, you must have a throwable (a square cushion, also called a Type 4 PFD) onboard if the boat is over 16 feet. A PFD like a ring buoy also meets this requirement.
Fire extinguisher requirements will depend on the age of the vessel, its size, and whether or not a fire extinguishing system is in place.
Visual Distress Signals
Visual distress signals are designed to assure that boaters have a way of attracting attention, securing assistance, and finding a boat in need of help more quickly.
Electric or Pyrotechnic Visual Distress Signaling Devices
Must be Coast Guard approved, in serviceable condition, and stowed to be readily accessible. If they are marked with a date showing the serviceable life, this date must not have passed. Launchers produced before Jan. 1, 1981, intended for use with approved signals are not required to be Coast Guard Approved.
USCG Approved Pyrotechnic and Electric Visual Distress Signals and Associated Devices include:
- Pyrotechnic red flares, handheld or aerial
- Pyrotechnic orange smoke, handheld or floating
- Launchers for aerial red meteors or parachute flares
- Electric distress light (night use only)
SOS Electric Distress Light
An SOS electric distress light is an LED visual distress signal device that meets US Coast Guard requirements and completely replaces traditional pyrotechnic flares. Electronic flares never expire (pyrotechnic flares must be less than 42 months old) and also solve flare disposal problems. Also, an LED electric distress light flashes for up to 60 hours, whereas traditional flares last minutes or less. These lights flash only the SOS sequence, per USCG requirements, and are visible up to 10 nautical miles.
Visual Distress Signaling Flags
Visual distress signaling flags must carry the manufacturer’s certification that they meet Coast Guard requirements. They must be in serviceable condition and stowed to be readily accessible.
Sound Producing Devices
A horn or whistle is recommended for vessels 26′ or less to signal intentions or signal position. However, for boats 26′ – 40′, a horn or whistle is required to sign intentions or signal position.