Boat Safety Equipment Checklist: 5 Items You Need On Your Boat

Whether you're fishing, wakeboarding, skiing, diving, or day cruising on your boat, remember to bring necessary safety equipment. By following a pre-departure checklist, you can assure that any time you spend on the water is safe. Here are 5 must-haves to stow aboard this boating season.

Life jackets or personal floatation devices (PFDs)

One of the most critical pieces of safety equipment aboard your sailboat is life jackets. As a result, it's important that it's kept in good shape and that the size is correct for the individual wearing it. Children under the age of 12 must always wear a life jacket when on a moving vessel. A life jacket is also required for anyone riding a personal watercraft (PWC).

Check your life jacket's fabric, buckles, and floatation materials for any holes or damage on a regular basis to ensure its lifespan. If you have an inflated life jacket, make sure it is maintained every year and that the CO2 cartridges are checked. If your life jackets are broken, or too small (or too huge), it may be time to replace them. If you're looking for high-quality life jackets, go to Great Lakes Skipper. Don't forget to use our Great Lakes Skipper discount codes for even more savings.

Visual signaling devices

Visual distress signals are available in a variety of formats, with various needs depending on the size of the vessel. Flares or nighttime signals are required on boats under 16 feet. Boats over 16 feet in length are required to have visible signals for both day and night use. Pyrotechnic devices or flares that qualify include orange or white smoke, as well as aerial light flares. Another nighttime accessory is a strobe light, while flags can be used during the day.

Follow the activation instructions to ensure that everyone on board knows where your flares are stored and how to use them. Flares should be kept dry and away from fuel and anything combustible. Flares have a three-year shelf life and must be refilled before they run out. To avoid injury, make sure you properly dispose of expired flares.

EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacons)

EPIRBs are portable radio transmitters that can be installed or kept on your boat. They are required on board because they can inform search and rescue agencies in the event of an emergency. They can be manually activated in an emergency or activated automatically after floating free of a sunken vessel.

You might want to consider getting an EPIRB with a strobe light and GPS upgrade to help rescuers find you faster. Visit to register your EPIRB (which is required) or to update your contact information. Remember to test your EPIRB at the proper intervals, as directed by the manufacturer.

Fire extinguishers

Every boat should have a fire extinguisher that is appropriate for the type of gasoline carried on board. Extinguishers come in a variety of types and ratings. To keep things simple, boats under 26 feet (including PWCs) require at least one B-1 type extinguisher, whereas boats between 26 and just under 40 feet require two B-1 types or one B-2 type.

AS 1851 should be followed when maintaining your fire extinguisher. To keep the pressure gauge in the green "full" zone, it must be maintained on a regular basis. If the extinguisher is in the red "empty" zone or looks to have been partially used, it should be replaced. Shake the current extinguisher from time to time to remove the fire-retardant powder that can stick to the bottom of the canister.

First-aid kit

In the event of an accident or injury, a first-aid kit should be kept aboard your sailboat. Scrapes, bruises, and other little or major injuries that may necessitate the use of a first-aid kit should all be prepared for. It's usually a good idea to have a basic first-aid kit on the boat, even if you don't think you'll need it. Better safe, than sorry.

Make sure your first-aid kit is adequately packed for the expected number of guests on the boat. Check your kit at least once a year to replenish frequently used goods. And remember to replace any that have expired.

Sum up

Remember, boating is a highly safe type of outdoor pleasure no matter how you look at it. You should have a safe and enjoyable day out on the water if you take a safe boating course, drive the boat appropriately, and carry the items we've listed. If you rent a boat, safety equipment should be kept in easily accessible locations, and everyone on board should be aware of where it is kept and how to use it properly.

Have a nice trip!