The transition from summer to winter is the ideal boating season in Texas. In autumn, you will find most of the waterways crowded with boats. Families and recreational boaters wait for this time of the year to plan boating trips and water activities.
So, are you ready to set sail? Before you assume the role of the captain and the passengers climb onboard, we suggest checking your safety kit to ensure you have all the essentials to handle an emergency.
Before we move on to the checklist, here are a few friendly reminders about boating safety
- All passengers should wear appropriate lifejackets
- If there’s a pet on board, make sure it is wearing a lifejacket too
- Do not overload the boat
- Do not drink and boat
- Always get yourself to safety first and then help others
- Send your friends and family members your float plan so that in case you don’t return on the date you said you would, the coast guards have plenty of time to track you down
Boating Safety Checklist
- Lifejacket (Type I, II, III, IV, and V)
- Fire Bucket
- Bilge Pump
- An Inflatable Life Raft
- Distress Flare (Orange and Red Hand-Held)
- Fire Extinguisher
- Safety Label (Appropriate to the Vessel Type)
- Sound Signal (Air Horn)
- Waterproof Torch
- First-Aid Kit (Antiseptic wipes, adhesive bandages, first aid cream, gauze pads, sting relief wipes, adhesive tape, cold packs, aspirin, cotton swabs, burn cream, and scissors)
- Bug Spray
- Throwable Life Preservers
- A Sharp Knife
- Extra Rope
- Motion Sickness Pills
- Navigation Lights
Visual Distress Signals (VDS)
One of the most important safety items you need to have on the boat is visual distress signals. They allow you to summon assistance in distress. There are a few US Coast Guard-approved electronic signals that all boaters must carry, or they are charged with a penalty.
All safety equipment has pros and cons. Every VDS serves a different purpose. This is why knowing what type of VDS you should have on board is important. For example, pyrotechnic visual distress signals are for boats and parachuters. Boats in distress can signal other boaters with an orange flare, and parachuters can use a red flare.
When buying a VDS, consider the following things:
- How easily an expired VDS can be disposed of
- Intended waterbody
- How visible is the VDS in front of dense background lights
- The VDS does not burn when it lights up
- Length of run time
- Portability – Can the VDS be carried safely by a person?
Sound Producing Devices
If the VDSs are damaged in an accident, a sound-producing device is the next best way to signal any nearby boats. If your vessel is 40 ft. long, you must have a sound-producing device on the boat. This could be anything, such as an air horn, a whistle, or a bell.
Make sure everyone on board knows where the safety equipment is kept. Assign a co-captain in case you are incapacitated so that they can take care of the passengers and ensure everyone reaches the shore safely. Lastly, inform the coast guard on your radio that you need help before things get worse.
Visit the EZ Dock Texas website for quality boat docks. The company offers different types of dock designs, including do-it-yourself docks, covered floating docks, drive-on docks, etc. For more information, call (800) 654-8168.