Which Safety Devices Must Be On All Boats in NC? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Recreational boating is a popular pastime in North Carolina, with its picturesque waterways and coastal areas attracting boaters of all kinds. However, to ensure the safety of those on board and those sharing the waters, the state of North Carolina has established specific regulations regarding safety devices that must be present on all recreational boats. These regulations are in place to prevent accidents and protect boaters. Here are the safety devices that must be on all recreational boats in North Carolina:

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Personal flotation devices, commonly known as life jackets or life vests, are a critical safety requirement for all boaters in North Carolina. The state mandates that there must be a U.S. Coast Guard-approved wearable PFD for each person on board the boat. These PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition, the appropriate size for the intended wearer, and readily accessible.

Throwable Flotation Devices

In addition to wearable PFDs, boats must also have at least one Type IV throwable flotation device. These can be in the form of a ring buoy or seat cushion, and they are designed to be thrown to a person in the water to provide flotation support while awaiting rescue.

Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are required on boats in North Carolina based on factors such as boat size, type, and whether there is an inboard engine. Boats with inboard engines, closed compartments where portable fuel tanks may be stored, or enclosed living spaces must have an approved marine-type fire extinguisher on board. It is essential to regularly inspect and maintain these extinguishers to ensure they are in working condition.

Visual Distress Signals

Visual distress signals are necessary for boats operating on coastal waters and federally controlled waters. These signals include flares, smoke signals, and signal flags and are used to indicate distress or need for assistance. The type and quantity of signals required depend on the boat’s size and the waters where it is being used.

Sound-Producing Devices

Sound-producing devices, such as whistles, horns, or bells, must be on board and operable. These devices are used to signal intentions, warn other vessels, or indicate distress. Boaters should familiarize themselves with the appropriate sound signals to use in various situations.

Navigation Lights

Navigation lights are essential for boating during low visibility conditions, such as nighttime or fog. Boats must display the appropriate navigation lights based on their size, type, and operation. Navigation lights help indicate the boat’s position, direction, and status to other vessels on the water.

Anchor and Line

All boats should carry an anchor with sufficient line (rope) to secure the boat safely when necessary. An anchor is essential for mooring, preventing drift, or securing the vessel during emergencies or adverse weather conditions.

First Aid Kit

While not a state-mandated requirement, carrying a first aid kit on board is strongly recommended for boaters’ safety. Accidents and injuries can happen while boating, and having a well-equipped first aid kit can be invaluable for providing immediate medical assistance.

Boat Registration and Documentation

Boaters in North Carolina must ensure that their boat is properly registered and that they have all necessary documentation on board. This includes the boat’s registration certificate and a valid, government-issued identification for the operator.

Boating Safety Certificate

North Carolina law requires that anyone operating a vessel with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater, or those born on or after January 1, 1988, must complete a boating safety course and carry their boating safety certificate on board. This rule applies to operators aged 14 and older.

It’s essential for all boaters in North Carolina to be aware of these safety device requirements and to regularly inspect and maintain their safety equipment to ensure it is in proper working order. Compliance with these regulations not only enhances the safety of boaters but also helps reduce the risk of accidents and emergencies on the water. Boaters should also stay informed about any updates or changes to state and federal boating safety laws to ensure they remain in compliance while enjoying North Carolina’s beautiful waters.