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Boat safety equipment

Boating is a wonderful hobby filled with relaxation, fun, excitement and adventure. However, the only way to truly enjoy your time on the water is by ensuring that every passenger is as safe as possible while riding in the boat. Proper safety practices are a great place to start, but they should also be coupled with buying proper safety equipment. 
 
Life Jackets and Floatation Rings
The United States Coast Guard requires that every passenger have at least one life jacket either easily available to them or on them while out on the water. Boats that are over 16 feet long should also have at least one floatation device such as a floatation ring to toss in cases of drowning. While the laws on children wearing life jackets varies from state to state, it's vital to put a life jacket on every child that can't swim. No matter the age or if the person can swim or not, it's always a good idea to wear a life jacket.
 
Fire Extinguishers
Fires can still occur out on the water just as easily as they can on land. That is why it is a good idea to have a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible part of your boat at all times. By law, boats that are 26 to 40 feet long should have at least one fire extinguisher, and boats that are 40 to 60 feet long should have at least two fire extinguishers. Even if your boat is fairly small, it's still a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand in case of engine fires. 
 
Bells, Horns and Whistles
Having a device that produces very loud noises that can easily be heard from a fairly large distance is great to have in case of emergencies. Bells, horns and whistles are all great noise producing devices that can be very beneficial in emergencies. By law, boats under 40 feet long need to have at least one of these devices on board of the boat at all times. Larger boats need at least one bell and one whistle. 
 
Visual Distress Signals 
Noise may not be enough to catch any attention. That is why it is also vital to have visual distress signals such as flares on your boat in case of emergencies. All boats under 16 feet in length need at least three visual signals that can be used at night, while larger boats need at least three visual signals that work at night and three that work in daylight. 
 
Other Basic Safety Equipment
While the previous items are required by law, there are still several items that aren't required by law that you should take on your boat in order to be prepared for emergencies and keep your passengers safe. You should have a fully stocked first aid kit, a pair of oars, extra fuel, bottles of water, some emergency food, a VHF radio, sun block as well as something for shade such as an umbrella or an awning on the boat and a bucket to dispense of any water that may have leaked into the boat. 
 
Having fun out on the boat is great, but it can easily be ruined by emergencies. Being prepared for anything while out on the water can ensure that your trip doesn't end in disaster.
 
photo credit: Lifejacket Poses via photopin (license)