Boating is a fun, multi-purpose activity that can be shared with friends, family or co-workers. With a boat, you can cruise around the lake, enjoy water sports, or fish those hard to reach locations. No matter your choice of activity, there are 5 essential items every boat should have onboard. These items are crucial for the safety of everyone on board, and some are required by the U.S Coast Guard.
1. Life Jackets
Life jackets are essential boating items. A life jacket must be accessible for each person on board. Children may be required to wear a life jacket at all times, but children’s life jacket regulations vary by state. Boats should also be equipped with a throwable flotation device.
2. Emergency Kit
Accidents can happen, so it is important to keep an emergency kit on board that includes a first aid kit, extra sunscreen, a fire extinguisher, a visual distress signal, a sound device, a bucket, and a paddle. A first aid kit is helpful for handling a variety of minor injuries, while extra sunscreen is important to prevent injury if your stay on the water is unexpectedly extended. Even boats can have fire emergencies, so be prepared. State rules vary, but a skier-down flag may be required when any passenger is in the water for any reason. Other visual distress signals, such as an S.O.S flag, or flares can be used to get help. Sound devices, specifically whistles and air horns, can signal your location in emergency situations. Even if a boat is equipped with a bilge pump to bail excess water, a bucket is a good multi-purpose item to have on board, especially if the bilge pump fails. And in case of engine failure, a paddle can propel you ashore.
Protect your recreational investment, and make sure to carry fenders on board. They will protect your boat from docks, pilings and even other boats.
An anchor will maintain your position at a favorite fishing spot, or shoreline location. An anchor is also essential for maintaining position in an emergency situation, either in case of extreme weather or boat failure.
Whether your boat has built-in coolers, or you bring a cooler on board, ice is another essential multi-purpose item. Ice will keep your drinks refreshingly cold, and your food, and freshly caught fish, at safe temperatures. Ice can also be used to ease pain and prevent swelling in case of injury.
Any boating experience should be fun and safe. Equip your boat with these items to ensure the safety and comfort of all aboard. A more detailed boat equipment checklist can further ensure you have everything you need for your next outing.