Coast Guard Boating Equipment Requirements
It’s important for the safety of yourself and your crew to follow the Coast Guard boating rules and requirements. The Coast Guard lists four minimum required devices on board at all times. In addition, the Coast Guard recommends boats have other safety equipment on board.
Personal Flotation Devices
All boats should have one Type I, Type II, Type III or Type V personal flotation devices (PFD) on board for each person. Those on water skis or water tubes must also wear a life vest. Each individual on board should have a personal flotation device in good condition and the correct size. A Type I vest is an off-shore style life jacket, a Type II device is a near-shore buoyant vest, a Type III device is a flotation aid and a Type V device is a wearable special use device. Boats 16 feet or longer, excluding canoes and kayaks, must also have a throwable flotation device, which is also known as a Type IV.
Bell or Whistle
The Coast Guard requires every boat less than 65.6 feet in length to carry a sound-producing device. Larger boats must carry both a whistle and a bell.
Visual Distress Signals
The Coast Guard requires visual distress signals or flare guns on vessels in U.S. coastal waters, in large lakes and on high seas.
The Coast Guard requires one B-1 type hand portable fire extinguisher for boats under 26 feet. Larger boats (26 to 40 feet) must carry two B-1 types or a B2 type extinguisher. Larger boats (40 to 65 feet) must carry three B-1 type extinguishers or one B-1 and one B-2 device. A class B extinguisher puts out fires involving flammable liquids. Those liquids include gasoline, kerosene and oil. The numerical rating indicates the number of square feet the extinguisher can reach. The number also rates the amount of foam, CO2 and dry chemicals the extinguisher contains.
Additional recommended equipment
The Coast Guard recommends all boats carry an anchor, bucket, paddles, first aid kit and a VHF radio. In addition, all boats should have available on board a tool kit, extra fuel and water, sun protection and a flashlight.