Required Boating Safety Equipment

Make sure you carry these items on board to stay safe (and legal!) on the water.

Photo of a Mustang survival PFD

Life Jackets

A properly fitting and serviceable jacket for every person on board. Remember many infatable life jackets must be worn to count toward USCG carriage requirements.

Photo of a fire extinguisher

Fire Extinguisher

It must be a Coast Guard-approved B1 model.

Photo of BoatUS bouyant cushions


Boats over 16 feet must carry a
throwable device.

Photo of a Falcon Mighty Sound airhorn

Sound Signaling Device

Carry a bell, whistle, or horn to warn another boater or to request assistance.

Visual Distress Signal

Photo of a hand flare

For boats under 16 feet, this is required only at night; for boats over 16 feet, this is required both day and night. Different rules apply on small bodies of water, but it's always wise to carry them.End of story marker

Published: Spring 2015


 Recommended Articles
Gray rule

Thumbnail photo of paddlesTop 10 Pieces Of Gear For Runabouts

Here's what equipment should be aboard every boat 20 feet
or smaller

Rescue helicopter illustrationTaking The "Search" Out Of Search & Rescue

Today's modern, GPS-equipped EPIRBs and PLBs could be your lifesaver in an emergency. Here's how they work

Thumbnail photo of woman driving a powerboatBe A Commanding Partner

A boating safety course teaching practical skills for those who don't need have the same level of experience as a captain

BoatUS Recommends You Should Also Carry These:

  • Flashlight
  • Anchor
  • VHF Radio
  • Bailer
  • Oars/Paddles
  • First-Aid Kit
  • Extra Fuel/Water
  • Tool Kit
  • Sun Protection
  • Cell Phone

BoatUS sponsors the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Power Squadrons voluntary Vessel Safety Checks. For more info,


Trailering Magazine is a benefit of BoatUS TRAILER ASSIST®.

BoatUS TRAILER ASSIST® provides:

  • On-the-road assistance for your trailer and vehicle
  • Special edition Trailering magazines
  • $15 coupon (off $100 purchase) for shopping at West Marine
  • Only $38 Annually! ($24 Membership + $14 TRAILER ASSIST)