You’re heading out for a day on the water, relax in the sun, catch a few fish and enjoy life. But what happens if disaster strikes? Are you prepared?
Here’s our list of top boat safety equipment items to stay safe at sea or wherever you are on the water.
Marine Fire Extinguishers
Just like you should have a fire extinguisher in your home, a fire extinguisher is an important item to keep on your boat, no matter the size. If your boat has an engine, it should have a fire extinguisher. Luckily, companies such as First Alert, Kidde and BRK Brands all make fire extinguishers specific for marine use.
What to look for in a Marine Fire Extinguisher
Marine fire extinguishers are generally multipurpose fire extinguishers. This means that they fight fires on wood, paper, rubbish and trash, plastics, gasoline and other oils and fuels and fires within electrical equipment. This saves you needing multiple fire extinguishers on your vessel.
The solution used to extinguish these multipurpose fires is mono-ammonium phosphate.
Marine fire extinguishers are in an all white extinguisher bottle.
The label should be waterproof and the trigger, pin and nozzle be corrosion resistant.
Look for disposable or rechargeable marine fire extinguishers depending on your needs.
If the lights go out and the sun goes down, a flashlight is a must. Furthermore, if you’re out on the water you’ll need a waterproof flashlight and, if possible, one that floats.
We’re pretty impressed with the No Cry Waterproof 1000 Lumen LED Rechargeable Flashlight, which just happens to tick all those boxes. Check it out on Amazon here or on the link below.
Flares for Boats
In the US, boaters must have current dated US Coast Guard approved day and night signals for all boats operating on coastal and open bodies of water.
Whilst the rules for carrying flares vary between locations and the size of your boat, even if it isn’t a requirement to carry flares, it can’t hurt to keep a set of flares on your boat should you ever need to use them.
Waterproof First Aid Kit
We recommend choosing a first aid kit that has a waterproof exterior and of course, floats! Also, it is vitally important to choose a first aid kit with quality items inside. Take trauma shears for example. If you’re in an emergency and need to cut someone’s clothes, what would you prefer – a decent pair of scissors that will cut through thick fabrics like denim, or a pair of scissors that resemble a tool for kindergarten scrap booking?
Other essential items to keep in your waterproof first aid kit for boating are instant ice packs, quality waterproof elastic bandages, dressings, pads, gauze and an emergency blanket. Also, remember safety pins to secure dressings! Extra fresh water in case of emergency is always recommended.
EPIRB – Personal Locator Beacon
An EPIRB is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. When activated, this device will alert search and rescue services of an emergency at sea. The tracking equipment on the EPIRB gives off a signal, which emergency services can use to locate a lifeboat, life raft, ship or persons in distress. The signal is submitted across a specific frequency.
An EPIRB isn’t a small cost. But then again, neither is your life. If you’re heading out to sea, don’t go without an EPIRB.
Handheld VHF Marine Radio
Great for smaller boats, rafting or kayaking a handheld VHF marine radio is a great way to keep connected whilst out on the water.
What to look for in a Handheld VHF Marine Radio
Marine Radio Frequencies
Most handheld VHF Marine radios have multiple frequencies, usually 1 watt, 2.5 watt or 6 watt for short or long range use.
International Water Coverage
Look for multiple channel maps, where you can cross over into international waters and continue to navigate with confidence.
Built in Weather Functions
If adverse weather is heading your way, you need to know about this. Consider looking for a portable marine radio with 24/7 weather channels and built in notifications for emergency weather.
Prices between handheld VHF Marine Radios vary considerably, as do their warranties. Manufacturers such as Standard Horizon offer a full 3 year warranty on their marine radios. In comparison, cheaper versions are available with 12 month warranties, but at around one third of the cost.
When it comes to purchasing a VHF marine radio, personal preference is the key. If you like a product built to last with a long warranty you need to be prepared to pay for that. If you’re an infrequent user and budget is important, a cheaper model may suffice.
Waterproof and Floatable
Needless to say, if you’re taking an portable marine radio out on the water, it needs to be waterproof to certain depths and have the ability to float if dropped overboard. Whether it be the radio itself, or a protective cover that it is inserted into.
Be sure to take good care of your VHF marine radio after taking out in salt water, to avoid any build up or corrosion.
Call it a life jacket, life vest or personal flotation device, this is an essential when out on the water. So essential in fact, we decided to put it last on our list rather than first, as we thought everyone would already know you need a life jacket! But do you know how many different types of life vests there are?
There are life jackets designed for men, women and youth, toddler and infant life jackets, dog life jackets, fishing life jackets and life jackets for water sports just to name a few.
In fact, there are so many different types and uses of personal flotation devices that we’ll make a separate post about these, so you can be fully informed before you buy.
But for now, let’s check out the top rated life jackets on Amazon: