Essential safety gear for mariners

You bought a boat because boating is a lot of fun and is a great way to relax and escape the worries of everyday life. But, even on a boat, problems can occur, from a mechanical issue to someone falling overboard. If you’re unprepared, little problems can quickly become big problems on a boat.

You may be taking your boat out of the water for the season in preparation for its winterization to-do list, and it might be wise to add this to a list of safety gear you’ll need before leaving port again for the open waters.

    • man overboard 1-1.jpgPFDs. Your boat should have enough life vests for everyone onboard. Also, any vessel over 16 feet is required to have throwable floatation devices.  
    • First Aid kit. Have a well-stocked first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream, aspirin and more.
    • Tools. An onboard tool box should have basic tools such as a hammer, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, duct tape and scissors or shears.
    • Fire extinguisher. Every boat should have at least one (easily-accessible) fire extinguisher onboard, preferably more.
    • Lights. Waterproof flashlights and/or headlamps are as important for looking in tight, dark quarters as they are for seeing at night.
    • Communication devices. Always have a VHF radio and a cell phone.
    • Distress signals. Flares and day signals should be easily accessible.
    • Extra batteries. Batteries have a way of dying at the worst time. Carry plenty of spares and have different sizes available.
    • Spare parts. Carry equipment spares onboard such as light bulbs, fuses, a fuel filter, water pump and more.
    • Tow line. A sturdy line will make it easier to get a tow if you need one.
    • Jumper cables. Have a set of cables available for if your battery dies.
    • A bailer. If you get even a small leak, you’ll want something onboard that you can bail water with.
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  • Life raft: For added safety on longer trips out at sea, you should consider carrying a life raft in the event of an emergency where you would need to ditch your boat.
  • Sound-producing device. Every boat should have a horn that can produce a four-second blast that can be heard a half-mile away.
  • Spare food and water. Make sure you have access to food and drinking water in case you get stranded. Carry a small stash onboard for emergencies.

Being prepared is the key to a safe, relaxing and enjoyable experience on the water.

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