Don't forget a set of tools and basic replacement parts for the boat. Spare hoses and clamps, extra “V” belts, spark plugs and pump impellers are all good to have on board. Breaking down far from shore can put you in as much jeopardy as heavy weather or a boating accident. For that reason, carry enough emergency food and water to sustain you and your passengers for several days if rescue is delayed.
Finally, remember that federally mandated requirements for safety equipment – such as visual distress signals and life jackets – are minimums. Considering the additional hazards that may be present far from shore, be sure to prepare.
While it can't be said for certain that these preparations or carrying additional gear would save lives in an offshore emergency, there is no question that responsible behaviors such as acquiring boating education, conducting a risk assessment, filing a float plan, and carrying well-maintained equipment, like an EPIRB, can add to your safety no matter when or where you boat.
Assess your risks before setting out…
Consider the risks presented by the following factors and any others that may be present in your particular situation; if the risk value of any parameter is too high, the trip should be called off or modified.
• Weather (current, forecast, inland, offshore)
• Overall experience and knowledge of the boat operator
• Experience and knowledge of passengers
• Vessel capacity
• Emergency equipment
…and consider additional gear
Federally mandated requirements for safety equipment – such as visual distress signals and life jackets – are minimums. Considering the additional hazards that may be present far from shore, be sure to prepare.
• EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon)
• Visual distress signals (flares, rockets)
• Life jackets designed for offshore/heavy weather use
• Personal signaling devices (mirrors, flares, whistles) attached to life jackets
• Inflatable life raft/life float
• VHF-FM marine band radio
• Parts and tools for emergency repairs
• Emergency food and water, enough for each passenger for several days
* * * * *
The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency's Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to "Boat Responsibly!" For more tips on boating safety, visit www.uscgboating.org.