Seven Pieces of Safety Equipment Every Boat Must Have


When you know the boating safety rules and have the proper safety equipment on your boat, you and your passengers can feel confident and relaxed out on the water. Required boating safety equipment may vary from state to state. Following is a list of seven safety items that should be on every boat at all times.


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Floatation Devices

Life jackets for you and every passenger may seem obvious, but many boaters don’t wear life jackets or have one for each passenger. All passengers must have a properly fitted jacket. Arm floats for small children are an extra safety measure. Jackets should be inspected each time you take your boat out and replaced if they’re damaged or show signs of wear. Life preservers and sturdy rope designed for marine use will aid you in rescuing someone who has fallen overboard or gotten into trouble while swimming. Rope can also be used if you need to be towed or to tow another boat.


Emergency Kits

You should have a first aid kit designed for boating. General first aid kits may not be waterproof. Your boating first aid kit should contain:

  • Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide wipes
  • Waterproof adhesive bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Elastic bandages
  • Sunscreen for skin and lips
  • Lotion for sunburn
  • Insect repellant
  • Products for insect bites
  • Dramamine
  • A sterile knife or scalpel
  • A sterile needle and thread
  • A tourniquet
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Burn cream
  • Sterile gauze pads and rolls
  • Cold packs
  • A first aid manual


You almost certainly have some tools in your tackle box, but you still need a separate tool kit. A boating tool kit should include:

  • Needle-nosed pliers for removing fish hooks objects
  • Wire cutters to assist in taking fish hooks out of skin
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape
  • WD-40
  • An all-in-one screwdriver set
  • A ratchet set with sockets in metric and English sizes
  • Spark plugs and an extra socket
  • The manual for your boat’s engine



You should have an extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts for yourself and a couple of extra pairs of sunglasses for yourself or your passengers. It’s a good idea to have safety glasses in case you have to work on some part of your boat. Binoculars can help you spot dangers like sandbars, judge whether distant clouds are storm clouds or see other boaters behaving dangerously.


Fire Extinguishers

Never go out on the water without a fire extinguisher designed for use on boats.



Make sure that your boat has the front and back lights required by your state. Keep a flashlight and extra batteries on board, and flares in case you get into trouble on the water.


Bottled Water

Bottled water in a cooler can help prevent dehydration and heatstroke if you’re stuck and waiting to be towed.


A Kill Switch

A lanyard worn around your wrist and attached to a kill switch can stop the boat if you fall overboard.


These items can help save lives or get you back safely to shore if you run into trouble while boating. Always make sure that you have any other items required by your state.


Aubrey Moulton is a writer for In her spare time she loves to read and go hiking.


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