Like any state, Florida requires boaters to have a certain amount of safety equipment on board their vessels to ensure the safety of passengers and other boaters. Of course, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to boating safety equipment requirements, so Florida has segmented its requirements by boat size. There are four classes that vessels fall into, which range from a Class A Recreational Vessel to Class 1, 2, and 3 Recreational Vessels.

We’ll highlight the high-level requirements as an at-a-glance summary, but we encourage you to visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for full details when equipping your boat for the open water.

Safety equipment requirements for Florida boaters

  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved personal flotation device for each person on board.
  • USCG-approved fire extinguisher(s) (if you’re vessel has a motor)
  • Visual distress signal, required when boating on the high sea, in coastal waters, or at night
  • Audible alert device, like a horn or whistle
  • Backfire flame control
  • Ventilation (requirements vary based on whether the boat was built before or after 1980)
  • Navigation lights, to be displayed at night or in low visibility conditions

In addition to this required equipment, the Florida Wildlife Commission recommends each vessel have an anchor with an appropriate amount of anchor line. They also suggest you have some sort of propulsion device like an oar or a paddle if your motor fails. Lastly, they encourage boaters to have a bilge pump or some sort of dewatering device to help in the event your vessel begins to flood.

Meeting the safety equipment requirements for Florida boaters is essential to avoiding accidents. Be sure your boat is properly equipped before you take to the water.