National Safe Boating Week is coming up (starting May 21), and BoatUS is taking the occasion to remind everyone about how they can be seen, and heard, if they run into trouble this summer. Here are their five tips that can help you summon help if you need it:
- VHF Radio – A VHF (Very High Frequency) radio is the most reliable way to communicate with other boats and emergency responders on most waterways. New Digital Selective Calling (DSC) radios with a red distress button can even send an emergency call and other important information such as your location to authorities automatically when properly installed and registered.
- Emergency Beacon – An emergency beacon, such as an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) can be activated to send a distress signal to satellites and rescue authorities. These devices are designed to work in remote areas where cellphone coverage is not available. EPIRBs and PLBs can be rented from the BoatUS Foundation.
- Sound-Producing Device – A sound producing device, such as an installed horn, a handheld air horn, and even a whistle, can be used to signal for help. Five or more blasts from a horn or a whistle indicate danger or a dangerous situation is unfolding. Sound-producing devices are required by law on most boats and can be heard over a considerable distance.
- Visual Distress Signals – Visual Distress Signals (VDS) such as pyrotechnic flares and certain battery-operated SOS light beacons can be used to signal for help when you’re out on the water. Flares and Coast Guard-approved distress lights can be seen from several miles away and are an effective way to signal for help when other methods of communication are not available.
- Distress Flag – A distress flag is an orange flag with a black square and a black circle. If you’re in distress, you can hoist the flag to signal other boats that you need assistance. This is a good alternative for use on small, wet watercraft, like kayaks and personal watercraft where traditional flares could get wet or storage aboard is a challenge. Read more: