Before you cruise out onto the water it's essential that you have all the safety items you might need with you. For your reference, we have a downloadable safety items checklist that you can use as a guide when checking over the watercraft before going boating, as well as a downloadable boat day checklist for all the basics that you don't want to forget to pack.

All boat owners should have their own copy of a pre-departure safety checklist to review while at the boat, and each renter should have a copy before and during the rental. This checklist serves as a reminder to check the required and suggested safety equipment; to make sure the equipment and items are running properly and are not expired; to showcase where each item is located, and to allow the captain to inform passengers of necessary items' locations and their proper usage. There might be other items you'd need in case of an emergency, depending on where you're boating and the weather conditions you're boating in.

If the vessel is missing a safety item that is required by law or if the item is not functioning properly, do not go out. Have the item replaced or fixed as soon as possible. If a suggested safety item is missing or not functioning properly, assess the situation based on safety. When in doubt, let safety prevail: stay onshore.

Check your list before each departure and after each return to ensure all items have remained on board and continue to function properly. Always check with local, state, and federal laws and regulations before you go out. 

Want more boating safety tips? Read our boat safety tips and resources guide.