Boating can be one of the world’s most enjoyable hobbies.

It is a fun, interesting and adventurous hobby to have, and one that can be easily shared with all kinds of people, from your family and friends to your co-workers.

Of course, there is one downside to boating, and that is the risk that comes with it. The fact is that for the most part, boats are safe spaces, but being out in deep water does come with an element of risk. However, if you know what you are doing when it comes to being on your boat and being out in deep water, then this lessens the risks associated with boating.

One mistake that far too many boating enthusiasts make is thinking that because they have years of experience on boats and in the sea, they don’t need to listen to practical safety advice.

However, that isn’t the case.

The fact is that if you want to ensure that you and your guests stay safe on the water, it is crucial to take boating safety seriously, including checking that you have all of the vital pieces of boating safety equipment on board before setting sail.

With that in mind, below is a guide to the top 10 pieces of boating safety equipment that every vessel should have on board:

  1. Flares

Flares are vital for if you get into trouble at sea. Set a flare off and anyone who sees it will know that you are in distress and will contact the local Coast Guard to come and assist you. It is important to check the expiration date on flares and replace them when needed. As a rule of thumb, most flares should be replaced at least every three years.

  1. Fire extinguishers

Every boat must have fire extinguishers on board. You might be surrounded by water, but that doesn’t mean that fire extinguishers are not necessary because they most certainly are. Make sure to invest in ‘Coast Guard approved’ fire extinguishers, to ensure that they are boat safe. Check pressure gauges before heading out – this should read ‘green’ or ‘full’, if it doesn’t, replace these immediately.

  1. Life jackets

Every boat should be fitted with life jackets and buoyancy aids. The fact is that it does not matter how great a swimmer you are, should you fall overboard, a life jacket could keep you alive by ensuring that you float, no matter what. Always double check that your life jackets are not ripped or damaged in any way, if they are, replace them. If you have inflatable life jackets, make sure to check that the Co2 canister is still intact and full.

  1. Horn

Before heading out to sea, it is vital that you have a functioning, Coast Guard approved horn on board. Should you need to make your position known, a horn can be life-saving, so never leave the shore without one.

  1. Navigation lights

Make sure that before you head out to sea, you double check that your boat’s navigation lights are working properly. These can be life-saving when sailing in the dark or in foggy conditions, so make sure to double check these are working before heading off. If they aren’t, replace them before leaving the shore.

  1. Lifeboat or life raft

Regardless of the size of your boat, if it can fit an extra boat onto the side of it or a life raft, then it should have one. A lifeboat or raft can be life-saving if you should get into trouble at sea, which is why it is one piece of equipment that you cannot leave the shore without. If you cannot fit a lifeboat or raft onto your boat, there are various blow-up life rafts that you can invest in instead.

  1. Have a float plan

Before heading out to see, always put together a float plan and give it to a trusted friend or family member. This should say where you are planning on going in your boat, what route you are taking, and how long you are going to be. That way, should your boat disappear and you go missing, people will know where to look for you.

  1. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)

An EPIRB is a type of specialist distress signal that can be used to locate a boat’s exact location, should it get into trouble. These beacons can be activated either manually or automatically, depending on the type of beacon that you opt to invest in. An automatic alert is released when the beacon goes under the water and alerts local authorities that your boat is in distress. While a manual alert has to be set off manually.

There you have it, a guide to the top eight pieces of boating safety equipment that you should never leave the shore without.

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