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Safe Boating



It takes more than sturdy Life Jackets
to be ready for safe boating.

At a minimum, your vessel should be equipped
with the following items:

Personal Flotation Devices (PFD's or Life Jackets) - Vessels are required, regardless of size, to have one PFD for each passenger on-board. PFD's need to be in good and serviceable condition, and must be the correct size for the passenger.

If your vessel is 16 feet or larger, you must also carry at least one Type 4 "Throwable device." These commonly are USCG approved flotation cushions or life-rings.

Law Enforcement Officers cannot stress how important it is that life jackets be readily accessible, and that each person is familiar with how to wear one. The safest way to prevent accidental drowning is to wear your life jacket at all times while on the water.

Sound Producing Device - Vessels must be equipped with at least one efficient sound producing device. Vessels over 39.4' must also be equipped with a bell at least 7.8 inches in diameter. Sound producing devices commonly consist of whistles, and horns (both electric and compressed air).

Visual Distress Signals - Vessels are required to carry visual distress signals consisting of three daytime, and three nighttime USCG approved distress signals. Vessels less than 16 feet are exempt from carrying daytime signals, but if equipped for operation at night, must carry the nighttime requirement.

Flares and rockets are often approved for both day and night use, and usually come in packs of three, meeting the day and night requirements. Distress signals expire! Be sure and check the expiration date on the signal yearly.

Fire Extinguishers - All vessels with fixed or enclosed fuel tanks, closed living spaces, and closed areas where combustible materials are stored, are required to carry USCG approved fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers also expire and lose pressure, check them each boating season.

  • For vessels up to 25 feet in length, one type B-1 extinguisher is required.
    Fixed engine compartment fire extinguishing systems count as one type B-1 extinguisher.

  • For vessels 26-40 feet in length, two type B-1 or one type B-2 is required.

  • For vessels 40-65 feet in length, three type B-1, or one B-2 and one B-1 extinguisher is required.


Back-Fire Flame Arrestor - Gasoline engines may backfire and cause the explosion of fuel vapors. All motorboats, except outboards and diesels, must have USCG approved back-fire flame arrestor systems on each carburetor. Arrestors must be clean and free of built up oil and dirt.

Ventilation - All enclosed compartments containing engines and/or fuel tanks require ventilation to prevent the build up of explosive vapors/gasses. Ventilation systems consist of both motorized and forced air systems. Be sure your exhaust lines extend to the lowest parts of the bilges, and that intake lines extend below the carburetor. Adequate ventilation, along with the proper ignition protected, marine application parts, can help prevent a dangerous or fatal explosion.

Again, these are minimum requirements. We are proud of boat operators that exceed the above safety requirements and they should be examples to others.

Secondly, some operating tips...

Ever wonder about wakes? Wakes are what your boat produces when it moves through the water. Wakes can damage other boats, and in some cases, cause personal injury or death. Boat operators are responsible for any and all damage caused by their wake.

What about water-skier flags? State law provides for the display of a water-skier flag, defined as a 12" by 12" international orange or red flag on a 24" pole, to be displayed anytime a water-skier is in the water (not up skiing).


Breaking the myth ... For years there has been what some call a "relationship" between recreational boating and the consumption of alcohol. Some boaters will tell you that "There's nothing like a cold beer while cruising on the boat." Well, that "relationship" is costing lives every year and there is a growing "zero tolerance" policy by marine enforcement officers for boating under the influence. What some may not realize is that boating generally compounds the effects of alcohol unlike what a person on land might feel. We call these compounding elements "Stressors."

The major daytime stressors that can compound effects of alcohol are: fatigue, noise, shock, heat, sun glare, time pressure, and vibration. All of these stressors can be present at night, with the exception of sun glare. At night, additional stressors such as, dark adaptation, moon glare, and background lighting are present. Stressors have the potential of increasing the intoxicating effects of alcohol as much as 30%. 

You can see how "just a couple of beers" can lead to trouble, not to mention arrest. Please do your part in breaking the myth.


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