Are you planning on hitting the water in your boat soon? While this is a great way to spend your day, it can also come with some risk. Did you know that 362 people drowned in 2019 because they weren’t wearing a life jacket? Don’t become a statistic!

Keep reading for a boat safety checklist that you should follow before heading out onto the water.

Life Jackets and Personal Flotation Devices

Before you head out onto the water, you should ensure that there is a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) available for every person who will be aboard that day, including yourself. While adults do not have to wear their life jacket the entire time, children under 12 years old must wear theirs for the duration of the trip.

Even though anyone over 12 years old isn’t required to wear it at all times, it is encouraged that you do so and should be put on at the dock before boarding. When you are proactive about your safety, you can avoid a tragic accident, should something occur while you are on the water.

Must-Have Safety Equipment

Besides having a life jacket or PFD available for every person who will be on board your boat, there are several other safety equipment items you should have. You should make sure you have a first aid kit that has been recently replenished with items that aren’t expired, an anchor to hold your boat in place, and a bucket in case you need to bail out water to stay afloat.

You need to have a functional VHF radio that you can use to call for help, oars or paddles in case the engine quits, and a spare battery for your engine. Use this marine battery size chart while shopping to make sure you get the correct size battery for your boat.

Visual and Sound Signaling Devices

If you are out on the water and become under duress, you might need to be able to signal others for help. The type of visual distress signal that is required for your watercraft might vary depending on the size of your vehicle and which state you will be boating in.

Generally, if your boat is smaller than 16 feet, you will need to have flares for use at night. Vehicles over 16 feet require visual signals that you can use during the day or night.

You should also make sure you have a sound signaling device, such as a whistle or a fixed horn. These devices make it easier for you to signal for help during periods of low visibility such as night or fog.

Learn More About the Boat Safety Checklist Today!

Before you head out onto the water, you need to use this boat safety checklist to make sure you have everything you need. Start with ensuring everyone who will be aboard that day has an appropriate life jacket or PFD, double-check that your first aid kit is up to date and replenished, and make sure you have an anchor that will hold your boat in place.

You should also have a VHF radio to communicate with other vessels, oars in case you need to paddle to shore, and an extra battery. You should also have visual and sound signaling devices to alert other boaters in the area that you’re in need of assistance.

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