Sailing is a recreational sport enjoyed by many. Whether sailing on a lake or in coastal waters, it is important that you make safety a priority. Always plan ahead and bring along safety equipment that will handle any emergency, including signaling devices to alert other boaters of distress. Check the weather conditions before sailing and if possible, never to sail alone.
Personal Safety – Equip your sailboat with a throwable life preserver for overboard emergencies.One of the most important items of safety equipment to have while sailing is a personal flotation device (PFD), or a life jacket. Required by law, this regulation is enforced by the United States Coast Guard. A Type I, II, III or V wearable safety device is mandatory for each person on board and the boat must be equipped with one Type IV throwable life preserver. Store life jackets in a readily accessible area and place the throwable life preserver in an immediately available location to throw into the water if a person goes overboard. It is important that your PFD fits properly and for extra safety, you may choose to add reflective tape for better visibility while in the water.
Visual Aides – A flashlight is an effective signal for help at night.Visual aides alert other boaters that you are in distress and need help. Visual distress signaling devices to use during daylight hours include an orange distress flag printed with a black square and a ball or an orange smoke signal. Red hand flares and red meteor flares can be seen in the day or night. A bright flashlight, with extra batteries, is another visual aide that is effective in the darkness. According to the California Department of Boating and Waterways, between sunrise and sunset and during times of limited visibility, it is mandatory that all boats display navigation lights.
Sound Devices – Blowing a loud whistle will alert other boaters of distress.Sound signaling equipment, such as an air horn, whistle or a bell, is an effective means of alerting other boaters of distress, especially in conditions where visibility is low. Sound signaling devices are necessary for navigation when meeting or crossing the path of another vessel.
Considerations – Keep a well stocked first aid kit on board at all times.Other safety equipment to keep on board while sailing is an anchor and plenty of line to keep your boat from drifting. A first aid kit and a fire extinguisher are essential, as well as a compass for navigational purposes. Additionally, keep a bucket or pail on board to bail water out of the boat. A knife and tools are necessary for needed repairs while sailing.