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Boating Safety and Safety Equipment

With the weather improving, it’s time to take your boat out and enjoy it. But there are a few safety items you should consider checking before heading out!

When was the last time you checked your fire extinguishers? Have they been serviced or replaced in the past year? What about your signal flares? Are they stored in a dry, but accessible place? Dry and accessible also applies to your first aid kit. Did you use the last bandage and haven’t replenished? If you don’t wear them prior to departure, are your life jackets (PFDs) in an accessible place? Do you have enough of them for everyone on board? What about a dedicated “throwable” floatation device in your cockpit to help someone who has found themselves suddenly overboard? All these items, and more, shouldn’t be overlooked before you head offshore.

Something that I recently installed in my boat’s galley is a kitchen fire blanket. I keep it hanging inside a cabinet near the stove, and in the event of a stove-top fire, the quick deployment of the fire blanket could save me from a big mess to clean up, or maybe even save my boat! I’ve never wanted to discharge a dry-chemical fire extinguisher inside a boat because the dry chemical gets into everything. I have experienced this and it wasn’t pretty! The fire blanket can be used on any type of fire, so it seems a reasonable addition to my safety equipment onboard. There are several on the market, but the ones I bought have a 9.9 “best” rating and are made by a U.S. company, Prepared Hero. For $20, it seems a fairly good deal. Quick deployment, reusable (so long as you don’t poke holes in it), and a firefighter friend highly recommended it to me. I bought four of them because I keep one in my kitchen at home, and I keep another one handy when I’m grilling outside. You can get them on Amazon, or pick one up at Home Depot or Lowes.

Signal flares are another item that require annual inspection. If they are stored in a damp location, they likely won’t work when you need them. Boating “pyrotechnics” do have an expiration date. Most hazardous waste collection sites will take your old ones, so please don’t toss them in the dumpster! Follow the expiration dates on the devices and have a current kit onboard. Also, it would be a good idea to review the instructions on each type of signal pyrotechnic device you have in your kit BEFORE you need to use it. Always aim these devices away from you, or anyone else, if you need to light one off. They can burn a hole in just about anything, so be careful with these things.

Have a fun sailing and boating season, and remember to be safe out there. As Captain Ron said, “If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen out there”.

Port Captain, Mark Jensen