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Boating Safety

Fishing 411 TV

Mark Romanack

So you’re enjoying a great day of fishing and the weather suddenly turns ugly. Before you know it a fun day of fishing has turned into a nightmare. What’s next?

Boating safety is one of those topics no one seems to be interested in. Clearly, there are more interesting topics, but the fact is a knowledge of boating safety may just be the knowledge that saves your life one day.

In this blog we will briefly discuss the safety items that are mandatory on every boat and some extras that make sense especially for those who frequently venture miles off shore.

The author recommends inflatable life vests for their comfort and safety. A life vest can’t help you if you’re not wearing it. Also, note the author has the kill switch attached to his wrist. Should the boat strike an object and the occupants of the boat get ejected, the kill switch insures the engine will stop.


The Coast Guard and State Police investigate drowning/boating accidents and in most instances if the victim was wearing a life vest loss of life could have been prevented. The problem with life vests and jackets is they can be uncomfortable to wear. Inflatable life vests solve that problem and insure that should you find yourself in the water, you will be able to stay afloat until authorities arrive.

Inflatable life vests are produced in two different categories including manual and automatic. Manual vests require the operator to pull a cord that activates and inflates the vest. Should you be knocked unconscious, a manual inflatable vest is useless.

Automatic inflatable vests inflate when they come in contact with water. There are different deployment systems on the market, but all function in a similar way.

Both manual and automatic life jackets also feature a tube that will allow air to be manually blown into the vest. This important feature insures that the full buoyancy of the vest can be maintained until help arrives.

Fishing is a lot of fun until disaster strikes. Hitting the water prepared is the best way to survive a boating accident. Captain Eric Hirzel made sure his precious cargo remained safe on a recent fishing trip. Having life vests on board for everyone and sizes suitable for youngsters is one of the important details everyone who spends time on the water needs to address.


Every boat should be equipped with a variety of signaling devices including hand-held flares and or flares that can be shot from a flare gun. Obviously, a flare gun is superior when it is necessary to signal from a great distance. It’s important to note that flares have expiration dates and they must be replaced periodically.

A second type of signaling device comes in the form of a large orange flag that can be displayed and used to attract the attention of other nearby boats. If your boat is not equipped with a horn, it’s a good idea to carry one of the portable air horns on board for emergencies.

Thirdly, every boat should be equipped with a whistle that can be used to signal the authorities. A whistle is especially useful should you find yourself in the water after dark.

In the same token, a waterproof flashlight or signal strobe is another safety item that should be on every boat.


An anchor and adequate amounts of anchor line are safety items many fishermen don’t think about. In the event the boat breaks down, the ability to anchor in one place will make it much easier for authorities to find the distressed boat.


The worst thing that can happen on a boat is a fire. Every boat needs a fire extinguisher on board and the fire extinguisher should be maintained to insure it is ready for action when an emergency occurs.


A seat cushion with a length of rope attached, makes for the ideal throwable device. Should someone end up in the water, a throwable device is the safest way to help that individual get back into the boat.


When an emergency occurs, calling for help is going to be critically important. Often a cell phone is not enough. Having a VHF radio on board can be critical to reaching the authorities. Another good investment are the satellite texting devices such as the Garmin In-Reach. With one of these devices on board, you can text for help anywhere in the world.

At the very least, every boater/fisherman should leave a float plan with someone who can initiate a search should you not return on time.

Many people don’t realize that ice fishing clothing such as this Striker jacket features floatation that can not only keep you afloat, but insulated in cold water. Hypothermia is a real threat should you end up in icy cold water. Float suits also insulate and greatly increase the life expectancy of cold weather boating or ice fishing emergencies.


Being prepared on the water is the absolute best way to survive an emergency situation. A little time spent in preparation for the worst case scenario can be the difference between life and death.


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