Skip to Content

Sea Tow Blog

News, press, tips and more can be found in the Sea Tow Blog. Have a suggestion for a story? Email us!

Sea Tow Blog

News, press, tips and more can be found in the Sea Tow Blog. Have a suggestion for a story? Email us!

Boater's Safety Equipment Checklist

  • Life Jackets – All recreational vessels must carry one wearable life jacket for each person on board. Any boat 16 feet and longer (except canoes and kayaks) must also carry one throwable (Type IV) device. Life jackets should be worn at all times when the vessel is underway.

  • Visual Distress Signals – Vessels operating on U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and territorial seas, as well as those waters connected directly, up to a point where the waterway is less than two nautical miles wide, must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard approved visual distress signals (VDS). Vessels owned in the United States and operating on the high seas must also be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard-approved visual distress signals.

  • Fire Extinguishers - U.S. Coast Guard-approved, marine-type fire extinguishers are required on boats where a fire hazard could be expected from the engines or fuel system. Extinguishers are classified by a letter and number symbol. The letter indicates the type of fire the unit is designed to extinguish. Type B, for example, is designed to extinguish flaming liquids, such as gasoline, oil, and grease. The number indicates the amount of extinguishing agent contained in the extinguisher; the higher the number, the greater the amount of agent in the extinguisher.  

    U.S. Coast Guard-approved extinguishers required for boats are hand-portable, have either B-I or B-II classification, and must be provided with a mounting bracket. While not required, it is recommended that the extinguishers be mounted in a readily accessible location. Consider locations where the extinguisher can be reached easily; for example, at or near the steering station or in the galley or engine room, but away from where a fire may likely start.

  • Ventilation – Boats that use gasoline for electrical generation, mechanical power, or propulsion are required to be equipped with a ventilation system.

  • Backfire Flame Control – Gasoline engines installed in a motorboat or motor vessel after April 25, 1940, except outboard motors, must be equipped with an acceptable means of backfire flame control. The backfire flame arrestor (BFA) must be suitably secured to the air intake with a flame-tight connection, and is required to be either U.S. Coast Guard-approved or comply with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 standards and marked accordingly.
  • Sound Producing Devices – Navigation Rules require sound signals to be made under certain circumstances. Meeting, crossing, and overtaking situations are examples of circumstances in which sound signals are required. Recreational vessels are also required to use sound signals during periods of reduced visibility and while at anchor.

  • Navigation Lights – Recreational vessels are required to display navigation lights between sunset and sunrise and during periods of restricted visibility (fog, rain, haze, etc.) The U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules, International-Inland, specifies lighting requirements for every description of watercraft.

  • Marine Sanitation Devices - All recreational boats with installed toilet facilities must have an operable marine sanitation device (MSD) on board.

    • For the full guide of Federal Requirements for Recreational Boaters, click here. You can visit the Sea Tow Foundation's website for a list of additional recommended equipment here.

Leave a Reply

Join our Mailing List!

Join the mailing list and receive updates on the latest Sea Tow news!