What Boat Safety Equipment Do I Need For A Safe Time On The Water?

What Boat Safety Equipment Do I Need? Make sure you're prepared for anything while out on the water by having the proper boat safety equipment.

boating safety equipment
What Boating Safety Items Do You Need For A Safe Trip?

Essential Boat Safety Items - Quick Guide

  • Life jackets and wearable personal flotation devices (PFDs)
  • Throwable flotation devices
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Visual signaling devices
  • Sound signaling devices

Investing in proper boat safety equipment can help you and your boat stay safe.

This article will cover requirements, types, and cost of safety items you'll need on your boat. We'll also discuss how to maintain your boat's safety equipment, which is essential for boat safety. Don't skip this step, it could save you a lot of money and trouble.  We know there are lots of fun boating accessories  you may or may not want to bring along, but don't skimp on the safety items.


The requirements for boat safety equipment vary depending on the type of vessel. Federal and state regulations specify minimum standards for various pieces of equipment. It is also important to check local laws to see which equipment is mandatory. You should also have a first aid kit and a cell phone. Cell phone reception is often poor on waterways, and cell phones can become damaged.

All boats should be equipped with a light. A lantern or flashlight with a white light must be easily accessible. Boats must also carry an emergency flare. These can be pyrotechnic devices or non-pyrotechnic alternatives, such as an orange distress flag or electric SOS signal light. Make sure these items are in good condition.

In addition to light, boats should also carry a backfire flame arrestor. This device is not required on outboard motors, but it is required on all other types of gas engines. The US Coast Guard enforces minimum federal boat safety equipment requirements, but states and localities have their own regulations. Whether your boat is small enough to carry emergency supplies is also up to you, but making sure it has these essential items is always a good idea.

boat safety kit
A Good Marine Safety Kit Is An Essential, Like This One From Windrider.


Boat safety equipment should be maintained on a regular basis to ensure that it is in good working order. A few items that need to be checked and maintained on your boat include the hull, the engine and propshaft, the throttle and the fuel system. You should also check the batteries and the terminals and clean the spark plugs. Other things that you should check and maintain include the personal floatation devices, also known as life jackets and life vests.

Propellers should be checked and replaced if they are loose or damaged. Loose propeller parts can cause excessive vibration, which is dangerous. They can also cause the propeller to fall off underwater. Cable jackets should also be checked for corroding and cracked areas. If they are corroded and have cracked sections, it is time to replace them.

You should also check the hull for cracks or blisters. In addition, you should also check drain plugs. Also, make sure that the anodes in your boat are working properly. Anodes help protect underwater metal components from corrosion. However, over time, they will break down and need to be replaced. If they are too weak, it could cause damage to other parts of the boat.

Types of Devices

Boat safety equipment consists of a variety of devices used to alert rescuers in the event of a marine accident. These can be either throwable or wearable. The regulations vary from state to state, but they generally require every vessel to have a visible distress signal (VDS). These devices may include flares or smoke signals. In addition, boats must have a functioning radio or marine radio, as well as a compass.

LED Safety flare
This Floating LED SOS Safety Flare Is A Good Alternative To The Traditional Bright Red Burning Flare.

Fire extinguishers and life jackets are mandatory for boats over 16 feet. Portable fire extinguishers are recommended for small boats, while larger vessels are required to carry automatic fire extinguishers. All crew members should wear a life jacket while boating. It is also a good idea to carry a first-aid kit and a cell phone.

A radio can also help boaters stay informed of weather conditions. It's also important to have an inflatable life raft on board if you're going to be on the water. An inflatable life raft can save your life if your boat sinks.


Boat safety gear is an important aspect of boating safety. While some safety equipment is cheap, others are expensive. The FWC recommends carrying a boat anchor with enough line to be able to tie it down and a bilge pump to remove water from the boat. Other essential boat safety equipment includes oars or paddles and an emergency means of propulsion in case the engine fails.

Boat safety equipment is usually required by law. For example, every boat must have a life jacket for every passenger. It's also necessary to have a personal locator beacon, or EPIRB. Other safety gear may include a first aid kit, extra rod holders, and a fire extinguisher. Also, boaters should budget for boating accessories like a portable cooler and a boat cushion.

Another important safety equipment is a set of flares or LED signal lights approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. These can be purchased for less than $35 each. A marine fire extinguisher may be required on larger boats. A VHF radio is not a requirement but is handy for communicating with other boats. A basic floating hand-held VHF can cost between $100 and $400, plus an antenna.

telescoping boat safety hook
A Good Quality Extension Hook Is Essential For Every Boat. We Like This Model, The Eversprout 6 Foot Telescoping Boat Hook 

Boating Safety Equipment FAQ

We’ve created a buyer’s guide of frequently asked questions to help answer your questions about boating safety. Hopefully one of these questions is one you've already asked yourself.

What are the 5 essential safety devices you should have on a boat?

  • Life jackets and wearable personal flotation devices (PFDs)
  • Throwable flotation devices
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Visual signaling devices
  • Sound signaling devices

How do you stay safe in a boat?

8 Essential Boat Safety Tips:

  1. Be prepared with a boat safety kit
  2. Bring the proper life jackets
  3. Check the weather beforehand
  4. Don't overload the boat with people or equipment
  5. Check for harmful fumes
  6. Use common sense on the water
  7. Follow proper anchoring procedures
  8. Follow proper docking procedures

What are the basic rules of boating?

The Importance of Knowing Boating Right of Way Rules:

  • Don't go too fast
  • Be cautious of other boaters
  • Always be respectful and conscientious
  • Avoid all government vessels and restricted areas
  • Give way if it makes sense

What Are the Four Principles of Safe Boating?

  • Education is Key. Get a head start by learning everything you can about boating safety.
  • Leave Drugs and Alcohol on Land. The consequences of boating under the influence can be financial, legal, or much worse.
  • Life Jackets Matter.
  • Safety Starts with the Vessel Itself.

Is a flare gun required on a boat?

Federal requirements are as follows: For boats under 16' in length: Distress signals are only required when operating between sunset and sunrise. If operating at night, one electric distress light or three combination day/night red flares are required.

What equipment must be on board if your vessel is 16 feet or longer?

Vessels 16 feet and over, except canoes and kayaks, must have one wearable Coast Guard-approved life jacket of a type and size appropriate for the conditions and the boating activity being engaged in for each person aboard, plus at least one Type IV throwable flotation device.  Also, check your state and local regulations for any additional requirements.

For further information on boating safety equipment, visit West Marine.

Boating Safety Equipment - The Last Cast

So what safety equipment do you need on a boat? The answer can vary, even though there is standard equipment for every vessel. We’ve tried to provide a variety of best options for you based on federal guidelines.

We hope you find this information helpful to equip your boat for a safe outing.

Cheers to the outdoors,