Category Archives: Safety items

Distress Signals

emergency signalsAlthough there are specific rules for when the Coast Guard requires or suggests that visual distress signals be carried on boats, I simply don’t understand why anyone would be on the water without them regardless of if they’re required or not.

Even if you’re simply spending a day on a lake, if your engine fails and there’s no one around, well, you’re sort of up a creek (pardon the pun). If you at least had a visual distress signal on board, you might have a chance of attracting attention (even from onshore). And, hopefully, you’ll never need distress signals because you ran aground – what was he thinking (picture taken on the Chesapeake Bay)?!

Visual distress signals come in many flavors from pyrotechnic items such as orange smoke bombs shot into the sky to non-pyrotechnic electric distress signals like an orange flag attached to the boat in trouble. These type of distress signals also come in those used specifically for day (such as the ‘floating orange smoke signal’ to those used for night (such as the Parachute Flare – can be used for day also).

 Electronic Distress Signal – CAUTION – EXPENSIVE!Check Price Shoreline Marine Distress FlagCheck Price Electronic Flare EF-10A-1 LightningCheck Price ODEO M3 LED Electronic FlareCheck Price Parachute Flares: SOLAS Red Distress RocketCheck Price

Air horns may not be approved by the Coast Guard for use as distress signals but they sure are handy to have on board for notifying other boats of your position – particularly when coming into and out of marinas where there are blind corners leading to waterways.

 Falcon Safety Push Button HornCheck Price Falcon Sports HornCheck Price

Life Jackets (PFDs) and Throwable Rings, etc.

life jacketIt’s well known that every boat on the water should have one personal floating device (aka, PFD or left jacket) per person, but, did you also know that boats over 16 feet must have a throwable life saving device, like a ring or a floating cushion, aboard? I sure didn’t until I started writing this post.

There are a few different types of PFDs on the market – inflatable life jackets which inflate manually when you pull a cord and the traditional more bulky PFDs. John and I prefer the inflatable life jackets as they’re more comfortable to wear, lighter, and cooler. They’re also easier to store as they fold up to the size of a small pillow.

But, any life jacket which is worn is a good life jacket. The key is to keep PDFs handy and wear them when required, like when jet skiing or water skiing.

Children under the age of 13 must have a life jacket on when a boat is underway unless the child is in a contained space (like the cabin) or below deck. You can, and will, be stopped by Coast Guard police if they spot you trying to skirt this rule.

Here’s a few types of life jackets that are all 4 or more stars out of 5 on

Inflatable life jackets:

 Onyx M-24 Manual Inflatable Life Jacket, RedCheck Price Mustang Survival MIT Automatic Inflatable Personal Flotation Device, Yellow/BlackCheck Price MTI Adventurewear Helios Inflatable PFD Life Jacket (Gray/Gray, Universal)Check Price Kent Type II Adult Life Jackets with Clear Storage Bag, 4 Each (Orange)Check Price Revere Comfortmax Inflatable Belt Pack Manual Type III Personal Flotation Device (Red, 30-52-Inch)Check Price

Traditional style PFDs:

 O’Neill Superlite USCG Vest (Pac/Nvy/Col, Large)Check Price ONYX General Purpose Boating vest, Universal Adult, 3XL, Over 90#, 40-60-Inches Chest, Blue/BlackCheck Price X20 Universal Adult Life Jacket Vest – Blue & BlackCheck Price Stearns Child’s Classic Boating Vest, BlueCheck Price Stearns Infant Classic Boating Vest, RedCheck Price Stearns Child’s and Youth Boating Vests (Red, 50 – 90-Pound)Check Price

Throwable life saving devices:

 Life Jacket / PFD: Type IV Throwable CushionCheck Price Cal June USCG Approved Ring Buoy (20- Inch Diameter, White)Check Price Kwik Tek LL-1 Life Line Rescue Throw Bag 50 FeetCheck Price


Fire Extinguishers For Boats

fire extinguisher for boatThe Coast Guard, with good reason, dictates that every boat must have at least one fire extinguisher readily available at all times. In fact, here’s an excellent article that dictates exactly what safety equipment a boat must have: A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirement For Recreational Boats.

I’d insist upon a mariner fire extinguisher even if the Coast Guard didn’t set the requirement as it just makes sense to me. Yes, you’re surrounded by water when on a boat, and, yes, water is used to put out fires but, ah, not all fires. Also, how are you planning on getting that water out of the Bay and into your fire? See my point.

Now, I was a bit confused about the numbering system used by the Coast Guard regarding marine-type fire extinguishers. Here’s what I gleaned:

  • There are 3 different classifications of fire extinguishers – Type A, B, or C.
    Type A fires are those of combustible types – like wood or paper
    Type B fires are for flammable liquids like gasoline
    Type C fires are electrical fires
    Type D fires are for combustible metals like magnesium.
  • There are also different sizes of marine fire extinguishers – Size I or II or III (the larger the number, the more foam and chemicals to fight larger fires)
    Size I fire extinguishers contain 1.75 gallons of foam along with dry chemicals
    Size II fire extinguishers contain 2.5 gallons of foam along with similar dry chemicals

To further confuse the issue, there are additional ratings which say how large a fire the particular extinguisher will put out. The rating is 0.1 meters per unit. Therefore, if a boat fire extinguisher is rated 30-B, that means that it will put out a fire that is 3 meters square.

Take my word for it, just buy a big one!

Most recreational boats require at least one fire extinguisher. In fact, as the boat increases in size, the number of marine extinguishers also increases. Less than 26′, your boat would need just one class BI fire extinguisher. I prefer to have extras but that’s just m

So, I went looking and found some very good quality mariner fire extinguishers that are right there below. Remember, in this case, more is better:

 Kidde Mariner5 Fire Extinguisher for Class B and C boating firesCheck Price Kidde 420119 PRO 340 Fire Extinguisher Metal Bracket, Heavy Duty, Compatible with Kidde 5-Pound Fire ExtinguishersCheck Price Kidde 466204 Pro 10 MP Fire Extinguisher, UL Rated 4-A, 60-B:C, RedCheck Price Kidde 21006287 Auto Fire Extinguisher, 5BC, SilverCheck Price Shield Fire Protection 13315D Auto and Marine DISP 110vb Fire ExtinguisherCheck Price


Boating First Aid Kits

boating first aid kitA good boating first aid kit should be your second purchase after the boat. If you’re proactive like I am, a good quality boating first aid kit was actually the first purchase before the boat. That’s how important I thought it was to be prepared for health emergencies while at sea.

John will tell you (and I will agree) that there are two axioms regarding boating and boating safety:

1. A boat will bite you if it gets the chance (ergo the need for first aid kits….) and
2. If it can tangle, it will (I’ll deal with tangling issues in another post).

Since I’ve been hurt many times on our boat (through no fault of mine, you understand….), I’m always sure of exactly where on the boat the first aid kit(s) are stored. Why do I have more than one emergency kit? Because I bleed just as easily on the bow as the stern! I’ve wrenched my knee when a rogue wave hit once and had to ice the offending joint and wrap it in a compression bandage until we could get back to shore. And, need I mention how many times I’ve ended up stuck on the business end of a fishing pole?

A good first aid kit for a boat should contain basic items such as bandages, neosporin or antibiotic ointment, along with ace bandages, scissors, tweezers etc. The best boating emergency kit will contain additional room for you to store those items you prefer – such as immodium or seasickness pills.

 Orion Safety Products Coastal First Aid KitCheck Price Orion Safety Products Offshore Sport Fisherman First Aid KitCheck Price Adventure Medical Kits UltraLight & Watertight .7 KitCheck Price OUTDOOR FIRST AID KIT 201 PC FOR CAMPING, BOATING, FISHING, HUNTINGCheck Price Medique 40061 First Aid Kit, 61-PieceCheck Price Coleman Expedition First Aid KitCheck Price