At a minimum, a boater should make sure that safety and other related equipment are on their vessel and in good working condition before each outing. U.S. Coast Guard boating safety minimum requirements for a vessel type may include the following items.
Please also see Boater Equipment Checklist for a template checklist available for type and size of vessel. Both the casual and experienced boater should be sure to get a free vessel safety check by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or United States Power Squadrons, and take a boating safety course.
- Working navigational lights
- Map/chart of the waters navigating
- Life jacket for each passenger
- Flotation device that can be thrown into water (such as a cushion or ring)
- Operational, fully charged fire extinguisher (charge or replace it before departure)
- Flares (check expiration date, dispose of expired flares properly)
- First aid kit
- Tool kit
- Paddle, especially on a small vessel
- Lines/ropes for being towed or pulled back to shore or rescuing someone else
- Signaling device (such as a horn, mirror, portable light)
- Communication device to contact outside assistance, if necessary, such as a VHF-DSC radio (recommended), EPIRB, and PLB.