Coast Guard Boat Requirements and Recommendations for Safety

Spring is finally here. After a seemingly endless winter, the weather is warm, the water is getting there, and the sun is bright. This is the perfect time to take your boat out on the water with family friends. If it isn’t the perfect time to do so where you are, then it’s the perfect time to get your boat ready for taking it out with family and friends. That said, there are some Coast Guard boat requirements and recommendations for safety you’re going to want to keep in mind. While we handle your vessel documentation, we always want everyone to be safe out on the water. 

Coast Guard Boat Requirements

The Coast Guard sets many of their safety standards by the length of the boat. So, in regards to personal flotation devices, for boats that are less than sixteen feet in length (canoes, kayaks, etc.) they want everyone on board to have a personal flotation device that’s wearable and readily accessible. If your vessel is bigger than that, you need to do all of that while also having an “immediately available” throwable device, too. 

Fire Extinguishers 

For the most part, regardless of size, vessels should have fire extinguishers if they have “enclosed fuel or engine spaces, enclosed living spaces, or permanent fuel tanks.” In context, “permanent” here is defined as “not movable by one person.” To use a good rule of thumb: if there’s an area on your vessel where it seems conceivable that a fire might start, then carry a fire extinguisher with you. You may not need one in your one-person, plastic kayak. But, a large vessel with machinery spaces absolutely will. 

Visual Distress Signals on Coastal Waters 

Are you operating your vessel between sunset and sunrise? Then, no matter what the vessel is, you’re going to need some kind of night signals. If your vessel is bigger than sixteen feet, however, you’re going to need much more. Then, the requirement is some kind of pyrotechnic device that could be used for three days and/or three nights. However, you don’t need “pyrotechnics” exactly. If you have an orange flag (for the day) and an electric S-O-S signal light (for night) then you will also be in compliance. The rule of thumb here: make sure you have something that can be seen no matter what in an emergency. 

Coast Guard Boat Requirements Met for Documentation 

The above are just some of the safety requirements for vessels. Most of them are common sense. All of them will help to keep you and everyone else on your vessels safe no matter how the waters and/or weather may change. At our site, we can help to keep you in compliance before you go out on the water. If you haven’t taken care of your vessel documentation yet, there’s still plenty of time to do so before summer gets into full swing. You can see everything we have at our site or give us a call at (800) 535-8570.