PFDs are strictly required by all maritime laws in all countries across the world. There are a lot of different types of PFDs:
• off-shore life jackets with neck support
• near-shore buoyant life vests with neck support
• light-weight life vests without neck support
• throwable devices: cushions, life rings, horseshoe buoys
• buoyant life-saving clothes (jackets, trousers, etc.).
To choose the right and legal PFDs it’s better to contact your boating safety office to check for the exact requirements. In every case the PFDs should have an official approval for use. AND REMEMBER – IT IS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE!!!
2. LIGHTS AND SIGNALS
Operating a boat at night without proper lights is irresponsible, and against the law. Look after your running lights to keep them in a good condition. Check your local navigation rules for the current regulations about the navigation signals and all necessary approvals for navigation equipment as they are different in different countries.
Also sound signals, such as a whistle, a horn and visual distress signals, such as distress flares, smoke flares or even a simple electric torch are reasonable (and in some cases required) to have on board – do not forget them!
3. HANDHELD VHF RADIO
A handheld VHF radio is a great safety and communication tool to have on you boat. Channel 16 is the univeral calling and distress channel that can be used to call for help if the situation requires. This radio is not a toy, and there are a number of protocols to follow when using the radio. In Canada, you are required to have a Radio Operator Certificate – Maritime in order to legally operate a VHF Radio.
4. FIRE EXTINGUISHER
A fire extinguisher (even the smallest one) is recommended for every boat. Of course, for small dinghies with portable outboard engines it can be difficult. But for bigger boats, and especially for boats with built-in fuel tanks it is required.
Even if you never use it for your own boat – somebody else may need it at sea or in the marina.
Boating can be great fun, but you must always remember that your life, lives of your passengers and the other people around are potentially at risk. Here is some general advice which will help you to avoid problems and enjoy boating:
1. KEEP OUT OF MARKED SWIMMING AREAS, DIVING AREAS AND COMMERCIALLY USED AREAS.
2. BE ATTENTIVE NEAR ANY SWIMMING PEOPLE IN WATER AND FLOATING DIVERS BUOYS WITH “DIVER UNDER WATER” FLAGS. DO NOT APPROACH THEM WITH A RUNNING ENGINE.
3. WHEN BOATING AT HIGH SPEEDS, KEEP ALL YOUR PASSENGERS SEATED ON, OR INSIDE THE BOAT. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO SEAT ON THE BOW.
4. When driving power boat ALWAYS WEAR THE ENGINE EMERGENCY STOP LANYARD ON YOUR HAND!
5. DO NOT MAKE SUDDEN TURNS WITHOUT ADVANCED WARNING OF PASSENGERS.