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Winter Inventory - Your Boating Safety Checklist

Following is the U.S. Coast Guard list of minimum required safety equipment. Winter is a good time to review these items to assure they are up to standard and in sound operating condition.

  • Approved personal flotation devices for every person on boats of any length, including canoes, kayaks or on water skis, plus at least one throwable Type IV PFD for boats over 16 feet.
  • When no fixed fire extinguisher system is installed in machinery spaces, at least one B-I type approved hand-portable extinguisher (except on non-commercial outboard motor boats under 26 feet and with no closed spaces for the entrapment of vapors), two such extinguishers for boats 26-40 feet, and at least three (or a B-I and B-II approved unit) for boats 40-65 feet.
  • When a fixed system is in place, at least one B-I extinguisher for 26-40 feet, and at least 2 B-Is or a B-I and B-II for 40-65 feet.
  • Ventilation system must be functional, free of obstructions, and intact; winter is a good time to check for duct leaks and to replace worn mechanical parts.
  • Is your whistle, horn or other sound signal- ing device or system clean, intact and fully operational? On boats between 12 and 20 meters, this requirement includes an approved bell.
  • Every inboard gasoline engine must be equipped with an acceptable backfire flame arrester.
  • Check the rules on visual distress signals, which vary by size, type and use of boat and hours of operation. Then check the flares and related systems or other devices to guarantee their integrity and utility.
  • Make sure your navigation lights conform to all International or Inland Navigation Rules.