For most of the country, boating season is about to kick off. But before you hit the water for that first overnight cruise, fishing trip or raft-up with your friends and family, it’s important to make sure you know what to do, and what NOT to do when you’re out on the water.
Boating safely means having the right equipment on board for all emergencies, big and small.
- Basic First Aid – Maintain a first aid kit stocked with basic supplies (gauze, bandages, alcohol cleaning pads, aspirin, etc.).
- Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) – The U.S. Coast Guard and/or state laws require you to have an approved PFD (also called life jackets and life vests) when you are in a boat, and that boat must carry one PFD for each passenger on board. Certain types of boats must also have a cushion or ring that can be thrown to a person in the water. Learn about the BoatU.S. Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program or watch their video about how to properly fit a child’s life jacket.
- Signaling Devices – Keep day and nighttime signaling devices on your boat including a sound maker, horn or whistle, distress flag, flares and/or a fog system.
- Fire Extinguisher – You must have a fire extinguisher with you while you’re on the water. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but it’s an essential item to keep close at hand should a fire ignite in the engine, galley or on the grill.
- Boat Anchor – To keep from running aground in bad weather or as a result of engine failure, every boat needs an adequate anchor. Read more in our Anchoring section.
- Tow Ropes & Dock Lines – Make sure you have an extra tow rope in case you or another boater is stranded and needs a lift. Dock lines also come in handy when you need to tie up to someone’s pier.
- Marine VHF Radio & Cell Phone – Keep a VHF radio on your boat at all times and bring your cell phone along too. Read our Emergency Protocol section for instructions on how to call for help.
How To Fit A Life Jacket On A Child
National Safe Boating Week is May 22 – 28, 2010. During this week, and throughout the boating season, remember to practice safe and responsible boating, always wear your life jacket and be alert and aware while on the water. For more details, take a look at this safe boating checklist.