Before an outing on the water, it is important to make sure that you have the proper boat safety equipment and gear onboard. Not only does this help to keep you and your passengers safe, but according to Canadian Vessel Operational Restriction and Regulations, it’s the law. As such, boat owners, recreational boaters, and anyone interested in boating should be well-educated on which safety equipment to have before you embark on a vessel.
Here, we’ve provided a straightforward and comprehensive boat safety equipment checklist with both mandatory and recommended items that boat owners should have at the ready. After all, being well-prepared with the right safety gear is crucial for a safe and enjoyable boating experience!
Mandatory VS Recommended Safety Equipment for Boats: Here’s What to Know About Boat Safety Equipment Requirements
Boaters are legally required to carry certain mandatory safety items with them if they plan to operate a vessel on the water. However, there are a few other additional recommended items to consider taking with you to improve your boating experience as well as help to keep everyone safe. To simplify matters, we’ve made two separate checklists with both mandatory and recommended safety items to bring along.
Mandatory Boat Safety Equipment
(For 6 Meter Boats or Under)
If you are operating a pleasure craft for recreational purposes, fishing, or boating for any other reason, certain necessary safety items must be kept with you to keep you and your passengers protected. On the following checklist, you’ll find the must-have items that every boat owner should carry on board to comply with Canada’s boating laws and safety regulations.
Life Jackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
There are many reasons to have life jackets and personal flotation devices, otherwise known as PFDs, onboard your vessel. For one, you never know whether a vessel might be unexpectedly tipped over. Additionally, passengers rarely intentionally fall overboard. In unexpected scenarios, flotation devices can be literal life preservers. As such, you will need to ensure you have enough properly fitted life jackets or PFDs for all passengers that will be traveling on your boat. Regularly check and maintain their condition to ensure they are fully functional.
A Buoyant Heaving Line (15 meters in length)
Buoyant heaving lines allow you to reach out to people in the water without the risk of adding to the danger of a situation. This line serves as a crucial tool for rescuing individuals who fall overboard or are otherwise in a compromised situation in the water. Make sure that your buoyant heaving line measures at least 15 meters in length and is always easily accessible, in good condition, and able to float.
Oar or Paddle
You never know when you are going to have issues with the engine of your boat. Seasoned boaters are well aware that mechanical failures, engine problems, or fuel intake issues can be prevalent with aquatic propulsion motors. Having an alternative means of propulsion is essential in case of engine failure or other emergencies.
You are also required to have a properly operating anchor on your vessel. An anchor helps to stabilize your boat during stops and in emergencies. Be sure to choose an appropriate anchor, that is the correct size for your boat’s weight. Regularly check to ensure that it’s in good working condition.
Bailer or Pump
Water onboard is rarely ever a good sign. Having a bailer or pump to remove excessive water from your vessel can be crucial. This equipment is essential for withdrawing water from the boat in case of leaks, capsizing, or other unexpected events.
Sound Device – Whistle/Air Horn
Being stranded in the water can be a life-threatening situation. If rescuers are searching for your vessel, you will want to be able to safely alert them to your position. Therefore, a sound device is vital for attracting attention and signaling distress.
Waterproof Flashlight or Flares
Similar to sound devices like whistles and air horns, waterproof flashlights, and flares are crucial for signaling during low visibility conditions or emergencies. There are three types of Canadian-approved flares: type A, B, or C. Type A flares implement a rocket parachute. Type B flares produce a multi-star effect. Type C flares are hand-held flares. All three types of approved flares produce luminous red colors when used.
Navigation Lights – (Requirement for Night)
If you will be operating a vessel on the water at night, you must ensure that your boat has working navigation lights for safety and visibility in the dark.
Fire Extinguishers – (Requirement for Inboard Motor)
If you have an inboard motor, fires can be a legitimate concern. As such, boaters will need to keep a suitable number of fire extinguishers available and easily accessible on board. It is also important to have these fire extinguishers regularly checked and serviced to make sure that they are in good repair.
Recommended Boat Safety Equipment
Now, let’s go over some recommended equipment to have on your boat for safety. While these items are not mandated by Canadian law, they can be important if you encounter an emergency on the water.
First Aid Kit
Accidents happen! Always have a well-stocked first aid kit onboard to address minor injuries and medical emergencies. Peroxide, medicated ointment, various sizes of bandages, and scissors, can all be essential items to keep in your kit.
Safety Harnesses and Tethers
Safety harnesses and tethers can be especially important if you will be boating offshore or are planning to cross rough waters. Safety harnesses and tethers can help to prevent passengers and boat operators from falling overboard unexpectedly.
Emergency Steering and Propulsion Systems
Being able to steer and move and guide your vessel in case of an engine or steering failure is important. Have contingency plans in place for steering and propulsion failures. There are many options available to make your excursion safer.
Weather Monitoring Equipment
Knowing what the weather conditions will be like before embarking on an excursion is critical.
Have equipment or devices with reliable weather monitoring tools to stay informed about changing conditions.
Emergency Communication Devices
You can’t always rely on your mobile device out on the water. Phones can easily break, stop functioning if they become wet, or lose cellular signal in the middle of a large lake. Carry an emergency locator beacon, satellite phone, or VHF radio for reliable communication during emergencies.
Include essentials like water, non-perishable food, blankets, and other emergency supplies in case you’re stranded. Storms, accidents, changing weather conditions, or temperatures on the water can turn standard supplies like this into lifesaving essentials.
Being prepared before any sort of water excursion can help to keep you and your loved ones safer. By adhering to these checklists, you can significantly improve the safety of your boating experience. Remember, mandatory equipment like life jackets, an anchor, and signaling devices are fundamental for any boat trip.
You should also consider bringing along the recommended gear, such as first aid kits and emergency communication devices, to be well-prepared for unforeseen situations. While boating is a fun and exciting activity, it is important to always prioritize safety above all else, and ensure that all safety gear is regularly maintained and in good working condition.
Even at the best of times, accidents and unexpected scenarios can arise suddenly and turn a fun day into a dangerous situation. With the right safety equipment on board, you can enjoy your boating adventures with peace of mind and confidence in your preparedness!
Protect Your Property and Prepare for the Unexpected with Boating Insurance from RecProtect
You can enjoy boating with more peace of mind when you have secure boat insurance from RecProtect, a top-rated insurance provider located in Ontario. Boat coverage can help protect your boat and property from an array of common problems including equipment breakdowns, collisions, theft, liability, and so much more. At RecProtect, various boat insurance packages are available to serve your individual needs!