Summertime in Florida means fun time – and fun time, for a lot of folks, means hitting the wide-open waters on their boats.
While safety regulations vary from one vessel to another based on their size and purpose, everyone who operates a watercraft between 16 and 26 feet is required to have certain safety equipment on board.
What safety equipment is required when you’re on the water?
It never hurts to go above and beyond the requirements of the law when you’re talking about boating safety, but you need a minimum of:
- One personal flotation device per person on board (including ones that meet the special size requirements for any minor children that happen to be passengers on your trip)
- On U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved B-1 type fire extinguisher (unless your boat isn’t motorized) in working condition
- Operational visual distress signals that are useable for both day and night if you are on the open sea or in coastal waters
- A sound-producing device, whether that’s a horn or a whistle, to call for help or signal
- The appropriate ventilation system for your specific watercraft
- One throwable Type IV device that’s USCG-approved
- The appropriate navigation lights as outlined by USCG navigation rules
Keep in mind that the Coast Guard can and will do a safety check if the occasion presents itself and you can end up with serious fines if you’re found without any of these items. Each missing or defective item can net you a $1,000 equipment violation – and that will definitely spoil your outing.
If you’ve run into trouble over a boating equipment violation, it’s wise to invest in sound legal guidance.