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Stay Safe on the Water: A Guide to Building the Perfect Boat Emergency Kit


As the weather warms, we’re eager to hit the water and enjoy some fun in the sun. However, whether planning a day trip on a small boat or a week-long sailing adventure, it’s essential to be prepared for unanticipated situations. 

A well-stocked boat emergency kit could mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major catastrophe. Below, we’ll walk you through the essentials of building the perfect boat emergency kit.


If you become stranded on the water after dark, having sufficient lighting is crucial to help you see and navigate obstacles or hazards on board. Rechargeable flashlights are a practical choice for boat emergency kits because they offer the convenience of easy recharging, eliminating the need to remember to pack extra batteries. Headlamps are another great lighting option, as they can be beneficial when you need to see and keep both hands free for other tasks.

First Aid Supplies

Having well-stocked medical supplies on board during an emergency could be a lifesaver. Your first aid kit should include band-aids, gauze pads, adhesive tape, and antiseptic wipes. It’s also a good idea to stock pain relievers, antihistamines, and motion sickness pills. If you or anyone on board has specific medical needs, include any necessary prescriptions or equipment.

Communication Tools

During an emergency, having access to communication equipment can make all the difference. Ensure your boat is equipped with a VHF radio, which you can use to contact the Coast Guard or other vessels in the area. It’s best to have a charged cell phone and a portable or solar charger on board if the battery runs low. Also, consider investing in a personal locator beacon, which can send an emergency signal to rescuers even if you’re out of range of other communication devices.

Navigation Equipment

Getting lost on the water can be an unsettling experience, so having the right navigation equipment on board is non-negotiable. A GPS device can help you stay on course, and a compass can be a useful backup if the GPS fails. You should also have paper charts, a chart plotter, and a handheld depth sounder to help you avoid running aground. Check that all your navigation equipment is operational and you know how to use it before heading out on the water.

Emergency Supplies

Besides first aid supplies, communication tools, and navigation equipment, your boat emergency kit should include a variety of emergency supplies. These might include:

  • Flares: Flares can signal for help if you’re in distress. Double-check that you have various flares on board, including handheld and parachute flares.
  • Mirror: A small mirror can reflect sunlight and signal for help.
  • Duct tape: You can use duct tape to make temporary repairs in case of a leak or other damage to your boat.
  • Multi-tool: A multi-tool can be helpful for various tasks, from cutting rope to making repairs.

Food and Water

If you’re stranded on the water for an extended period, you’ll need adequate food and water supplies. Make sure you have enough bottled water on board to last for several days, as well as non-perishable food such as energy bars and canned goods. If you have the space, you may also want to include a portable water filter or desalination kit.

Having a well-stocked boat emergency kit is essential for ensuring your safety and the safety of your passengers. By including first aid supplies, communication tools, navigation equipment, emergency equipment, reliable lighting, and food and water, you can be prepared for various emergencies. So stay safe, and enjoy your time on the water!


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