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Boating Safety Equipment Required For Everyone’s Safety


Every watercraft used in the United States must have certain boating safety equipment available for use, depending on the type and size of the vessel. The U.S. Coast Guard has established certain minimum standards that all boating safety equipment must meet so, when buying the equipment it has to meet those standards to be acceptable. Any equipment found on board a boat that does not meet those requirements will be considered non-existent and any penalties for not having the equipment can be assessed.

While some may view the fines and penalties for failure to comply with even the minimal boating safety equipment as intrusive, these rules are in place to help protect the lives of the boater and their passengers. There may also be equipment required on boats over certain sizes that may not seem related to safety, including boat dock equipment, but there use will help insure against water and land pollution.

Personal floatation devices may be one of the most common areas where people misunderstand the rules. It is not enough to have a life jacket available for everyone on board, if this boating safety equipment is not readily accessable in event of an emergency. Keeping them wrapped in their original packaging may seem like a good idea to protect them from damage, but will extend the time needed to get them on in case of an emergency. They should also not be stored under other items or in a locked cabinet in the boat.

Need To Be Seen And Heard On The Water

A couple of other required pieces of boating safety equipment include visual and audible distress signals. Flare guns are popular items for boaters who spend a lot of time on the water. In the event of a break down, the visual distress signal should be visible during the day as well as at night. If the boat breaks down and the operator has no signaling device they could spend days on the water hoping someone passes by and spots them.

Audible signals are also required pieces of boating safety equipment such as an air horn or bell to enable the operator to alert others to their presence. In the event of a fire onboard, having the right fire extinguisher within easy reach is a necessity. The type of fire extinguisher kept as part of the boat’s boating safety equipment, should be designed for marine use and should be capable of extinguishing all types of fire, especially those of flammable liquids, such as gasoline or diesel fuel.


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