WASHINGTON – Don’t arrive at a launch ramp and find your on-board safety equipment missing or in need of repair. Use “downtime” to check your boat’s safety equipment and make sure it’s in top operating condition. The following safety items are essential (and required by law):
Life jackets –one wearable Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board in good, serviceable condition, of appropriate size and type for the intended user and readily accessible.
Throwable floatation – Boats 16 feet and longer (except kayaks and canoes) must carry one throwable device (cushions, ring buoys, etc.).
Visual distress signals – Vessels over 16 feet must be equipped with day and night visual distress signals; vessels less than 16 feet are not required to carry day signals but must carry night signals from sunset to sunrise. Signaling devices include pyrotechnic devices (flares and smoke), orange distress flags and electric distress lights. Check if you are unsure of what devices are required for your vessel.
Fire extinguishers – Coast Guard-approved, marine-type fire extinguishers are required on boats propelled by machinery mounted where they can be easily reached away from locations where a fire is likely start.
Sound producing devices – include bells, horns, and whistles.
Navigation lights – Vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc). Check the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules, International-inland for details.
The American Boating Association
PO Box 690
New Market, MD 21774