What Safety Equipment is Needed on My Boat?

We received a call yesterday from a Vessel Maintenance Client with an interesting, yet very pertinent, question. While many people concentrate on the major mechanical aspects of their boat, his question centered on the safety equipment that needs to be on board.

Our response was followed up by a personal visit to his boat, and we completed our boating safety equipment checklist:

1. Examine and Test Your EPIRBs and PLBs Your EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) and PLB (personal locator beacon) are a lifesaver and should never be overlooked. Use this time to check the batteries in your PLBs and EPIRBs. Typically these devices have a test procedure for the batteries, so use them. Additionally, these devices have to be re-registered every two years, which is required by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), so be sure to check the re-registration date. If you need to re-register, go to www.sarsat.noaa.gov to update your information.

2. Examine/Replace Flares If you do not already have flares on board, make sure you add this important piece of safety equipment to your arsenal. Already have meteor and handheld flares onboard? Make sure you inspect them and check the expiration dates on your flares. If your flares are expired, replace them immediately. If they are set to expire in a few months, you should use this time to replace them now. Don’t wait for the expiration date to pass, as it may slip your mind.

3. Examine/Replace Life Jackets Life jackets should never be overlooked, so make sure you give your life jacket a look over and examine them at the start of every boating season. Meaning, examine your life jacket and ensure that the buckles, straps, buckles, fabric and flotation materials are in good condition. If you are in doubt about anything, err on the side of caution and replace the life jacket. The same rule applies with inflatable life jackets. If they look too used or are damaged, replace them and make sure to inspect/replace the CO2 cartridges.

4. Inspect Your Fire Extinguishers Fire extinguishers are vital to your safety and well-being, so it is not a piece of equipment you want to overlook. Check your fire extinguishers, and if any of them are discharged (even partially), replace them. You can do this by examining the pressure gauge to make sure it reads in the green “full” zone. However, if you do need to replace your fire extinguishers, just make sure you replace them with Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishers. Additionally, check the fire extinguishers bracket to ensure that it is still able to hold the extinguisher securely.

Lastly, make sure you check your boat’s navigation lights, test your bilge pump, and check your boat’s horn. Check them all to make sure that they still work correctly, and while you are at it, check all of the connectors and wiring to verify that everything is corrosion-free. Tend to and fix anything that needs to be replaced. If you have to replace your horn, make sure you replace your boat’s horn with a Coast Guard approved device.

Be sure to follow our posts in November, when we will be offering a great, "can't say no", offer to our existing Clients, new Clients and Facebook followers regarding these issues. We want everyone in Southwest Florida to have a safe, enjoyable day on the water!

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