Boat Safety Gear

Now is the perfect time to check the boat’s safety gear.

May 3, 2019

With the prime fishing season getting underway, now is the perfect time to check the boat’s safety gear. Requirements vary from state to state on certain items, but having the essentials in good working order could mean the difference between a quick rescue or a long, uncomfortable soak. Here are the safety items that need attention:

Life Jackets
Life Jackets: Carefully inspect each jacket for rips or dry rot. Straps and buckles need to checked, too. If using inflatable style jackets, make sure the CO2 cylinders are current. All jackets should be worn or easily accessible to all aboard. SWS File
Flares: Check the expiration dates on all Red Locator Day/Night flares and/or 12-gauge meteor flares to make sure they are still current. The primers on the meteor flares should be free of corrosion. Expired flares can be bagged, clearly labeled as expired and stored in a separate location for emergency back-ups. Dispose of unwanted, expired flares at the local hazardous waste facility. If using a floating electronic SOS beacon instead of day/night flares, replace the batteries and check operation. The same applies to EPIRBS and Personal Locator Beacons. SWS File
Signaling Devices
Signaling Devices: Inspect or test signaling devices like whistles, air horns, mirrors and floating streamer banners. Keep all in a waterproof container and make sure everyone on board knows the location. SWS File
Fire Extinguisher
Fire Extinguisher: Ensure the safety pin is securely fastened in the trigger lock and the chemical charge is within allowable tolerances. Inspect all extinguishers on board and replace any that are borderline. SWS File

Bilge Pumps
Inspect each pump and clean or replace any filters. Make sure all are working properly in both the manual and automatic modes. Bilge pumps should be wired independently from battery switches so power is always available.

Sea Anchor/Drift Sock
Check the sea anchor and rode for rips, tears or dry rot. Replace as necessary. It’s always prudent to opt for larger sea anchors rather than smaller.


Read Next: Pre-Season Boat Safety Check

First Aid Kit
Replace old, damp bandages with fresh ones. Replace and replenish pain pills, sea sickness treatments and any other perishables.

Handheld VHF
Don’t depend on cellular coverage in emergencies. A waterproof, handheld VHF allows communication with other boaters and rescue authorities, even if the boat loses all power. Make sure it is fully charged and do a radio check to ensure transmit and receiving operation.


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