Living on the water means the opportunity to go out on it, and there’s very little I enjoy more. The sense of isolation and the wide open expanses of rippling water are inimitable. That isolation comes at a price, however, and to remain safe on the open water you must prepare in advance for emergency situations. Knowing what gear you should have in your boat is a prerequisite for any aquatic excursion, and a smart thing to know even when you are just along for the ride.
The Emergency Gear You Should Have In Your Boat:
Personal Flotation Device (PFDs): Required by law for every passenger, so you’ll want something to fit everybody. You’ll find them labelled Type I (offshore/open water), II (near shore) or III (flotation aid). Choose what you need based on where you may take your boat and the size of prospective passengers. Type IV are the ones you throw in the water, like a ring buoy. You should know where they are at.
- Audible Distress Signal: You have to have something so they can hear you from as far away as possible, like a whistle or horn. It is required by law. Yes, your voice carries really, really far over the water. Think that cabin on the other side of the river can’t hear every word they’re yelling? Oh, they can. They wish they couldn’t, but they can. Still not good enough for the Coast Guard.
- Visible Distress Signal: You have to have something so they can see you from as far away as possible, like flares, glowsticks, water dye or smoke signals. The bigger the boat, the more pyrotechnics you’ll probably want. You also need a fire extinguisher on anything over 26 feet.
Paddles: Not just the first thing to consider, but the second and third as well. A lesson craftily taught to many a land-lubber in the cradle: Row, row, row your boat. Get something light and that can be disassembled for easy storage. You always have a limited amount of space on a boat, and need to use it wisely.
- Water Pump: The modern boat pump is light and easily stowed until needed, and then it is far more useful than a bucket or your hands. This item should not be overlooked, even in the smallest craft. Get something that is small enough to operate and store easily. You don’t need to be moving a lot of water to stay ahead of a problem, just make sure you can use it comfortably.
- Sea Towing: Pays for itself the first time you use it, and gives you priceless peace of mind until then. When you consider the possibility of them coming to tow you in even on someone else’s boat, it is a luxury well worth having.
- First Aid Kit: There are plenty of sharp things both on the boat and in the water. If you’ve ever tried to retrieve your hook from a catfish, you know this to be true. It is always a good idea to have your standard collection of antiseptics, ointments and thin sterile fabrics right at what is left of your fingertips.
- Backup Power: Another great idea to have on board is an emergency power source like the Cyntur JumperPack Mini. It can jump start boats and vehicles, or power and charge phones in emergency situations. It lasts up to a year on a full charge, and starts up to 8 cylinder engines. It’s safe to use, and weighs less than a pound. Cyntur’s JumperPack mini is available now for $99.99 at Target stores and Cyntur.com.