How To Stay Safe While Enjoying Your Boat

Following a safety regimen on your boat is just as important as following one in your home. While many people have items such as fire alarms and extinguishers in their homes, they don’t think to take the same safe guards on their boats.

If your boat has a cabin it should have a fire alarm and for added safety install a carbon monoxide detector. Getting a early warning can literally save your life!

The American Boat and Yacht Council now requires that a carbon monoxide detector is installed on all new boats. Even if your boat is powered by a generator it doesn’t mean that your safe from carbon monoxide. Heating and cooking appliances and even lanterns can emit deadly carbon monoxide.

You should always carry a fire extinguisher aboard your boat no matter what size it is. For the best fire protection, make sure that there is a fire extinguisher on both ends of your boat even if it’s a small boat.

It may surprise you to know that the regular 10-BC dry chemical type fire extinguishers will only last for about ten seconds if you need to use them! They are great for really small fires or fires that you see immediately, but if it turns serious they won’t be any help.

There are also Coast Guard regulations that you must follow when choosing a extinguisher for your boat. If your boat is over 26′ long, you are required to have at least two 10-BC extinguishers onboard.

You may also be surprised to learn that even if you follow the Coast Guard regulations, you’ll only be equipped to extinguish small fires! For better protection keep at least a B-II extinguisher onboard, or better yet go for at least a 60-BC rated fire extinguisher.

Another Coast Guard regulation requires that you keep three day time use and three night-time use flares onboard if your boat exceeds 16′ in length. But, no matter what size your boat is, flares may be your only way to signal for help in an emergency.

Flares should be kept in water proof containers and make sure you check the expiration dates regularly. The flares often still work beyond their expiration dates and can be kept aboard as long as you add new ones.

Even if you and your passengers are expert swimmers, no boat should leave shore without life jackets for each person onboard. An expert swimmer will still drown if they’re injured and can’t swim!

There are three different types of life jackets, Type I, Type II and Type III. While having any life jacket on your boat is better than none at all, the right one could make all the difference in life or death!

The best type of life jacket to carry is Type I. In an emergency it can save your life literally without any help from you! It has more buoyancy than the other two types and will keep you floating face up.

Type II is a lot cheaper, but cutting corners on a life saving device isn’t the best way to save money! Compared to the buoyancy of the Type I jacket, this one only has about a third as much. It is very uncomfortable and won’t keep you floating face up in the water.

Type III life jackets live up to all the requirements of the Coast Guard, but in reality it’s only good for emergencies that happen close to shore. They do provide about the same buoyancy as the Type II jackets and are very comfortable.

If comfort is a main concern opt for manually inflatable PFDs, they are also Type III life preservers. They keep you afloat face up and are extremely comfortable to wear.