Help the Coast Guard save you: Have and use boating safety equipment


gift ideas for your boater

Gift ideas for your boater


Strobe light

During the last week of April, an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., assisted the Michigan State Police in locating a lost kayaker in Northern Michigan. The kayaker had capsized his kayak in the Firesteel River in Ontonagon County, Mich., and made it to shore but was cold, wet and lost. There was a communication barrier because of a lack of cellphone coverage and low battery. To assist in locating and rescuing this individual the Michigan State Police called upon the Coast Guard. The aircrew was able to locate the lost kayaker, but due to tree coverage was unable to conduct a hoist and a rescue. The aircrew did the next best thing and dropped a blanket, radio, strobe light and chemical lights to the kayaker. The equipment dropped to the kayaker was essential in the ground search party locating the kayaker. CLICK HERE to read a news release.

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally the Coast Guard can come find you but can’t conduct a rescue right then. Whether the reason for a delayed rescue is weather conditions, mechanical failure, fuel levels, weight limitations or hoist conditions, the Coast Guard won’t leave you empty handed.

The Coast Guard believes that some equipment is so essential that they will drop, lower or toss you this equipment from a rescue helicopter or boat at the start or during a rescue operation. A Coast Guard rescue crew is prepared to pass on first aid materials such as: blankets, hypothermic kits or first-aid kits; communications equipment such as: a hand held VHF-FM radio or a message block, which is used to pass written messages to survivors; various miscellaneous materials such as: flares, survival knife or strobe light.

Signaling mirror

Signaling mirror

 Being safe on the water is being prepared to help yourself in times of emergency. Federal laws require children 13 years and younger to wear life jackets at all times while underway and require vessels to have enough life jackets for everyone onboard, regardless of age. The Coast Guard recommends boaters go one step further, choosing to wear life jackets at all times. If a boater enters the water, more often than not he does so unexpectedly. The only life jacket that will save your life is the one you’re wearing. One of the first things a rescue crew will do during a rescue case is start a form of communication. Being able to communicate to a boater in need is essential to conducting a successful rescue.

If a boater already has a radio, but is lost because of fog, they can vector the Coast Guard to their location with their radio. Other ways to vector a rescue crew to your location is with sound signals such as horns or whistles, and visual distress signals such as signaling mirrors or flares.

Electronic Indicating Radio Beacon

Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon


Personal Locator Beacon

Personal Locator Beacon

One of the most effective ways of making sure the Coast Guard can find and rescue you is to have a registered electronic position indicating beacon for your boat and a personal locating beacon. These electronic devices can be pinged by the Coast Guard via satellite when they are automatically set-off by immersion in the water or self activated by you.

 The Coast Guard will use every effort, every resource and every person available to rescue boaters in need, but sometimes that just is not enough, so it is up the boaters to help themselves.

Not all safety equipment is legally required but every single piece of safety equipment will help save your life.

CLICK HERE to read more about National Safe Boating Week and safe boating equipment.