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Preparedness
Boating Preparedness Recommendations

Photo Credit: National Safe Boating Council

At a minimum, a boater should make sure that safety and other related equipment are on their vessel and in good working condition before each outing. U.S. Coast Guard boating safety minimum requirements for a vessel type may include the following items.

Please also see Boater Equipment Checklist for a template checklist available for type and size of vessel. Both the casual and experienced boater should be sure to get a free vessel safety check by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or United States Power Squadrons, and take a boating safety course.

  • Working navigational lights
  • Map/chart of the waters navigating
  • Life jacket for each passenger
  • Flotation device that can be thrown into water (such as a cushion or ring)
  • Operational, fully charged fire extinguisher (charge or replace it before departure)
  • Flares (check expiration date, dispose of expired flares properly)
  • First aid kit
  • Tool kit
  • Paddle, especially on a small vessel
  • Lines/ropes for being towed or pulled back to shore or rescuing someone else
  • Signaling device (such as a horn, mirror, portable light)
  • Communication device to contact outside assistance, if necessary, such as a VHF-DSC radio (recommended), EPIRB, and PLB.

More Information

Boater Equipment Checklist

Carriage of Fire Extinguishers

Vessel Safety Check