Boating 101: Boating Safety Equipment Checklist

Boating 101: Boating Safety Equipment Checklist

Boating Safety Equipment Checklist
Spring has sprung and boating season is right around the corner, but before you hop on board, use this time to inspect your safety gear. While many people concentrate on the major mechanical aspects of their boat, the safety equipment on board tends to get overlooked. Use this time wisely, especially since the weather is warming up, to inspect and update your boat’s safety equipment.

Ensure that you start the boating season off on the right foot by following our simple boating safety equipment checklist.

Examine and Test Your EPIRBs and PLBs

Your EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) and PLB (personal locator beacon) are a lifesaver and should never be overlooked. Use this time to check the batteries in your PLBs and EPIRBs. Typically these devices have a test procedure for the batteries, so use them. Additionally, these devices have to be re-registered every two years, which is required by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), so be sure to check the re-registration date. If you need to re-register, go to to update your information.

Examine/Replace Flares

If you do not already have flares on board, make sure you add this important piece of safety equipment to your arsenal. Already have meteor and handheld flares onboard? Make sure you inspect them and check the expiration dates on your flares. If your flares are expired, replace them immediately. If they are set to expire in a few months, you should use this time to replace them now. Don’t wait for the expiration date to pass, as it may slip your mind.

Examine/Replace Life Jackets

Life jackets should never be overlooked, so make sure you give your life jacket a look over and examine them at the start of every boating season. Meaning, examine your life jacket and ensure that the buckles, straps, buckles, fabric and floatation materials are in good condition. If you are in doubt about anything, err on the side of caution and replace the life jacket. The Same rule applies with inflatable life jackets. If they look too used or are damaged, replace them and make sure to inspect/replace the CO2 cartridges.

Inspect Your Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are vital to your safety and wellbeing, so it is not a piece of equipment you want to overlook. Check your fire extinguishers, and if any of them are discharged (even partially), replace them. You can do this by examining the pressure gauge to make sure it reads in the green “full” zone. However, if you do need to replace your fire extinguishers, just make sure you replace them with Coast Guard-approved fire extinguishers. If your existing extinguisher(s) have a power caked at the bottom, give it a good shake to break it lose. Additionally, check the fire extinguishers bracket to ensure that it is still able to hold the extinguisher securely.

Inspect Boating Functions

Lastly, make sure you check your boat’s navigation lights, test your bilge pump, and check your boat’s horn. Check them all to make sure that they still work correctly, and while you are at it, check all of the connectors and wirings to verify that everything is corrosion-free. Tend to and fix anything that needs to be replaced. If you have to replace your horn, make sure you replace your boat’s horn with a Coast Guard approved device.

New York Marine Trades Association