Checking the safety equipment on board before the start of the season is recommended for new and seasoned boaters alike. If you need to use the equipment in an emergency, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s ready to go. Here are a few pointers.
- First, check the USCG and/or state-required equipment, so you’re ready for your Vessel Safety Check (VSC). Life jackets, fire extinguishers, visual & audible distress signals, bailing devices, paddles, and the like. Check the general condition, state of charge, operation, and expiration/replacement dates if equipped.
- Check the navigation lights and engine cutoff switch for proper operation.
- Check installed electronic devices like EPIRBs, VHF radios, CO monitors, fume detectors, and automatic fire suppression systems for battery replacement dates, operation, or state of charge.
- Check handheld devices like PLBs, MOB tags, radios, GPS units, etc., for battery replacement dates and operation.
- Test ELCIs, GFICs, and all AC & DC breakers for proper operation using the TEST buttons.
- Check the first aid kit contents and restock if necessary.
- Check the ditch bag and life raft for maintenance.
- Perform a proper VHF radio check.
- Compare the compass heading to a GPS and recalibrate if necessary.
Now, go out and get a Vessel Safety Check before taking it to the water!