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Disclaimer:   I am not a spokesperson for the US Coast Guard. For an official interpretation of regulations you must contact the US Coast Guard or other organization referenced..   More..... 

Boating Safety

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Paddles, Oars:  Having a paddle or oars on a a small boat under 20 feet is a good idea.  It is not a requirement, but will come in handy when all else fails.  They are especially handy when you are bringing the boat in slowly and have cut the engine, or the engine died,  but still need to make last minute adjustments in direction.  They are essential in small sail boats when the wind dies, or maneuvering around docks.

Visual distress signals:

Devices to signal distress are required in some situations:
http://www.boatingbasicsonline.com/content/general/4_2_e2.php or
http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/1/workflow_staging/Publications/420.PDF (page 17)

Where: On coastal waters, unless it is a bay or river less than two miles wide.  Not on most inland waters (lakes and streams.)

Boats not required to carry visual distress signals:

Manually propelled boats.
Boats under 16 feet in length during the daytime.
Open sailboats under 26 feet that do not have an engine.
Boats in races, regattas or other such events such as boat parades.

 There are different types

Pyrotechnic devices, (rockets, flares, smoke signals)

Non-pyrotechnic devices:  Flags, lights. 

If you carry pyrotechnic devices you must carry at least three of one type or in combination.  (example: three red flares, or one red flare and two smoke, etc.)

Warning: Some states may have additional requirements. (example: Washington state requires day signals on all boats 16 feet and up.  ) Check with your state boating law administrator.  http://nasbla.org/i4a/member_directory/feSearchForm.cfm?directory_id=3&pageid=3335&showTitle=1

Sound producing devices;

This is a requirement to comply with the Navigation rules.  They are horns, bells,  and whistles. They are required to signal other boats to tell them what your intentions are, and for low visibility in fog.  Small boats under 12 meters in length (39 feet) are not  required to have a horn. But small boats are stilled required under the navigation rules to be able to make sound signals. So it is a good safety item to carry. It should be an "efficient sound producing device".  Larger boats must have a horn or whistle, and some must also have a bell.  See  http://www.boatingbasicsonline.com/content/general/4_2_e.php (page 25) and  http://www.boatingbasicsonline.com/content/general/4_2_e.php

Navigation Rules On-Line http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent

Fueling Procedures:

Fueling a gasoline powered boat can be very dangerous. To remain safe you need to follow a safe procedure:  Diesel is not quite as volatile and not as dangerous as gasoline but it is also best to still use a safe procedure.  Click the image for full size. You may print this for your own use.

Fueling Procedure

Warning Labels:  Capacity, Carbon Monoxide, Seating, Prop strike, Blower,

Boats today have an abundance of warning and information labels.  Take time to read the labels. They are there for your safety.  The larger the boat the more labels it will have. But on small power and manually propelled boats, the most prominent label will be a capacity label.

Capacity Label

This is for a boat powered by an outboard motor.  The label for other types of boats will look similar but not have a horsepower rating.  This label is not required on canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and inflatable boats, but some manufacturers put them on voluntarily.

There are many other type of labels. Some exam[les are a certification statement (the manufacturer certifies this boat complies with US Coast Guard regulations), Carbon Monoxide warnings, seating arrangements, and blower warning labels  See here for more about labels:  http://newboatbuilders.com/pages/labels-2.html

Power boats 26 feet and longer are required to have a label about pollution. This is an owner responsibility.  You must make sure you have one.

Pollution Placard

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