Boat Safety Kit (Legal & Recommended)
Updated: Oct 29
While fishing can be a fun activity for the whole family it also puts you in a position that can become dangerous if you are not prepared. No matter how much time you have spend on or around the water it should never be underestimated. To ensure you can be prepared for all your fishing (or camping) adventures and be safe on the water we have decided to do a blog series on some items often overlooked or misunderstood by anglers / boaters that can leave you unprepared in an emergency or put you in dangerous situations.
No matter if you drive a bass boat, a tinner, a canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board if you're on the water there are a number of items that you are legal required to carry with you for safety. The legal act that governs what items you need to carry on board is the Small Vessel Act which can be found here for those that are interested. As the operator of a vessel you are responsible for ensuring the requirements are met. This can be with a collection of your own sourced gear or from purchased "Complete Boat Safety Kits" however there are some other items that will not be in these boat kits.
One of the most important points outlined in these regulations is All safety equipment must be in working order and easily accessible for immediate use. This means no stowing this stuff away under all your other gear or under your floorboards where you can't get at them or you could face penalties if you get stopped by the police.
To summarize the safety gear required:
- A Personal Floatation Device for every passenger on board: There are a lot of specifics regarding PFD's and we will do an in depth post just on this topic in the coming weeks as part of this series.
- A reboarding device (ladder) if height to climb back into vessel is more than 0.5 m: This is basically all pleasure boat, deep V hull, or pontoon boat!
- A buoyant heaving line of at least 15 m:
- A watertight flashlight or 3 pyrotechnic distress signals with not more than 1 being a smoke signal: to be in working order the flashlight needs to have batteries and the distress signals must not be expired! In the boat kits bought from the store be sure batteries are included or add them after the fact.
- A bailer or manual bilge pump: One should note that while they may make the legal requirements with a bailing bucket this is not going to do you any good if your boat has a floor. In this case by the time water reaches a level where you can bail it you will be mostly sunk! A manual bilge (bicycle pump style) is needed to reach in the compartments and get water out!
- A manual propelling device (paddle) or an anchor with >15 m of rope
- Sound signalling device (whistle)
- Navigation lights if between sunset and sunrise
- A magnetic compass: Not an electronic one, one on your phone, or fish finder. A magnetic compass is required
-Fire extinguishers (Type 5B:C): For inboard engines or any boat with a fixed fuel tank. To be in working order these must be charged and not expired! Be sure to check yours at the start of every season to stay in compliance
In a human powered vessel (canoe, kayak, etc) there is an exception that only a sound signalling device & watertight flashlight is required if and only if each member on board is wearing a personal floatation device. If they are not all wearing PFD's all other requirements are still in effect (bailer, heaving line, compass, etc)
Note: once your boat becomes longer than 6 m there are additional requirements
While the list above is quite expansive there are still a number of items we recommend everybody on the water (but especially anglers) bring with them. These items are kept on our boats in a waterproof "Emergency Box" that we top up at the start of each season. These items include:
- Toilet Paper: This is easily the most used and most forgotten about item in every anglers boat! Out in the wild there is likely no bathroom close by if the urge hits you and you don't want to have to use your socks or sleeves!
- First Aid Kit: We add waterproof bandaids! When dealing with hooks, knives, fish with teeth and gills there are lots of opportunities for cuts. Putting a bandaid on them stops blood from getting all over your boat and protects against the risk of infection
- Matches / Lighters: In the event you are ever trapped due to weather, boat failure, or just want to have a nice shore lunch these are a must to start a fire, cook some food, and get warm
- Sunscreen: This one is self explanatory but can often be forgotten while rushing to get out on the water. The rays are extra strong reflecting back off the water into you and burns are almost a given without sunscreen or UV protective clothing
- Emergency style blanket: Should you be stuck in poor weather or have someone fall overboard these are a cheap, compact, and effective way to get them warm which can be a life saver!
- Knives & Multitools: You never know what can happen in a day on the water. Having a knife and some basic tools can really help you get by in a pinch.
- Water: Keeping a few bottles of water in storage on your boat is never a bad idea. Sun stroke, dehydration, and simple to quench a thirst a few bottles of water on board will never go bad and can help you from cutting a day short.
- Battery Power Bank: Whether you need to charge your phone to make a call for help or need to boost the boat battery a portable battery power bank is an easy way to keep you safe on the water for those unexpected moments.
If you've made it this far we want to thank you for bearing with us! There are a lot of requirements needed to enjoy a day on the water and we want everyone to be prepared. You never know when an emergency can happen but by being prepared the damages will be minimal. If you have any other items that you keep on board with you that others should know about please comment them on this post so everyone can be safe and enjoy their time on the water this season.
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