Use this pre-departure checklist to ensure a safe start to your day on the water

There is a lot to think about as a boat owner, especially when you have a crew of people joining you for a day on the water. From the mechanics of your boat to the cargo, ensuring everything is on board and operating at its best can take some serious thought. A pre-departure checklist can help provide peace of mind before taking off. Here are a few essentials for a pre-departure checklist.

Life Jackets

You should have one approved life jacket per passenger, and at least two on board at all times. If you’re taking more passengers than usual, make sure you have the life jackets to accommodate. Additionally, if your boat is more than 16 feet long, you also need a throwable flotation device. Make sure all your passengers wear the life jackets and are aware of the location of that flotation device.

Distress Signals

Like the flotation device, make sure all passengers know where a flare or day signal is located, which should be a dry location on your boat.

Boat or air horn

The ability to make loud sounds on the water can make a big difference if you get in a sticky situation. Test your boat horn or air horn regularly and keep a few whistles on deck in case of a horn malfunction.

Tools, first aid, and extra parts

A standard toolbox and first aid kit are must-haves when you take off, but you’ll also want a few extra parts on hand, such as light bulbs, head parts, and a fuel filter, among others.

Fire extinguisher

You hope you never need it, but keeping a fire extinguisher on board is essential in case of emergency. Once again, let your passengers know where it is located before departure.

Mechanical and electric

Checking your fuel, battery, oil ,and coolant are all important items to consider before departure. Top off your fluids as much as you can — you never know when you’ll need it.

Depending on the type of boat you own and the kind of boating you do, you’ll have to customize a pre-departure checklist for yourself. As you consider all the things that need to be done before take-off, a checklist can help keep your passengers and your boat safe.