Powerboat Safety Equipment

There are laws that require that certain safety equipment be on board powerboats (all boats for that matter) and also that it be in good working condition. It won’t be of much use if it doesn’t work. Remember that your boat can be stopped for many reasons and if you do not have all of the proper safety equipment on board and in good working condition, you can be fined.

1.    Documentation proving ownership of the powerboat and registration is required to be on board. These documents need to be kept in a water proof container that will float. In case of an accident these are the documents that will be used to identify accident victims.
2.    Personal Flotation devices (PDF’s) are required for each person on board the boat. These flotation devices need to be in good condition and they need to fit each passenger. If there are children on board, then there needs to be a PDF that will fit them for each one. In most states, it is the law that children under a certain age wear their PDF’s when they are on a boat.
3.    There must be at least one Throwable Flotation Device (TFD) on board such as a life ring.
4.    A fire extinguisher is required. Prudent powerboat owners will have one that more than meets minimum requirements.
5.    Visual distress signals are another safety equipment requirement. Visual distress signals can be orange smoke, flares, etc.
6.    Proper ventilation is not a piece of equipment exactly but it is a safety requirement for powerboats so that fumes will not be trapped.
7.    Powerboats with gasoline engines are required to have a backfire flame arrestor on board.
8.    A sound device is another piece of required safety equipment. A sound device is a horn or a whistle.

9.  Depending on the vessel size, either a manual propelling device or an anchor and line.

10.  Bailer or manual pump

11.  Navigation lights

Bruce Stott is the Chief Instructor of Gulf Islands Cruising School Ltd. in Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island.  He is the author of Boating FAQ’s, 71 Essential Answers for Every Boater.

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