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Boater Safety Doesn’t Stop at Life Jackets

By The Husband and Wife Law Team on August 18, 2021

Nothing beats a day on the water, but whether you are on a fishing boat, yacht, or out sailing, you want to know that the vessel is secure for all scenarios. Federal boating laws require boat operators to have more than just personal floatation devices (PFDs) onboard, and there are several tools that are invaluable in an emergency. Whether an owner or an operator, you should always make sure your vessel is fully stocked before casting off.

Federal Boating Laws on Safety Equipment

Boating, like driving, is a responsibility, and the Unites States Coast Guard (USCG) has issued strict recreational boating regulations in order to hold operators to their responsibilities. Alongside operating their vessels in a safe manner and making sure they are well-maintained, boaters are also required to have the following equipment on board:

  • Life Jackets: Federal law requires all boats to have one USCG-approved personal flotation device for every passenger aboard, no matter their age or swimming skills. Life jackets should be in good conditions and the appropriate size for each boater. Boats that are 16 feet or longer must also have one throwable Type IV flotation device.
  • Visual Distress Signals: In an emergency, a boat operator will need to have a distress signal on hand to signal emergency services and warn other boaters of dangers. These signals should be USCG-approved and must include pyrotechnic devices (flares, orange smoke signals, etc.), orange distress flags, and electric distress lights.
  • Sound-Producing Devices: Alongside visual distress signals, boat owners should also have sound-producing equipment onboard to signal other boaters or swimmers while they are passing or overtaking each other. When on inland waters, boats should have whistles or horns that can be heard from at least a half-mile away.
  • Fire Extinguishers: Not all fire extinguishers are meant for boating, and owners should only keep USCG-approved, marine-type fire extinguishers on their vessels. These extinguishers are designed to handle engine and fuel-related fires. Boaters should only use B-I or B-II fire extinguishers, which are designed to handle liquid fires from gasoline or oil. Extinguishers should be mounted to the boat and be portable so boaters can access them in an emergency.
  • Navigation Lights: During sunset, sunrise, and poor visibility conditions, boat operators must use navigation lights to safely traverse a body of water. Each watercraft has different lighting requirements, and owners should carefully review USCG regulations to determine where and how to display their lights.

In addition to this required equipment, specific boats may also require other equipment to prevent serious injuries or boating accidents. In general, boaters should have the following devices onboard in case of an emergency:

  • Medical kits
  • VHF radios to call for help
  • Communication devices like cellphones or satellite phones
  • Heavy-duty flashlights
  • “Diver down” flags
  • Bailing devices to remove water from inside the boat
  • Oars or paddles
  • Anchors

What If I Was Injured on the Water?

If you were injured due to another boater’s negligence, you may be able to recover compensation in a personal injury claim. We’ve seen many boating accidents that were caused by negligent operators who were unlicensed, inexperienced, or intoxicated at the time of an accident, and they should be the ones to pay for the damages you have suffered. Whether you were swimming at the time you were injured, on another boat that was collided with, or flung about by your own boat’s operator, you are not alone.

The Husband and Wife Law Team at Breyer Law Offices, P.C., is dedicated to fighting for accident victims who have suffered this kind of trauma. We understand how devastating boating accidents can be and know how to get you the highest possible award for your injuries. We can sit down with you in a free consultation and explain your options under the law.

To get started, call (602) 457-6222 for a free case evaluation from a Phoenix personal injury attorney.

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Posted in: Boating Accident

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