Spring Safety Checklist

Spring Safety Checklist

Before you put your boat in the water, make sure these key items are in proper operating condition.

By the Editors

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Spring Safety Checklist
• Part 2: Spring Safety Checklist continued

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Index

Given the precipitation-heavy winter most of us have just suffered through, it’s a wonder we’ve been able to resist the urge thus far to peel the shrink-wrap off our boats and launch them into the water in a vain attempt to hurry spring’s arrival. Wiser heads have prevailed, thankfully, and the proper winterizing protection we gave them is about to pay off in a seasonful of fun.

But only if we take the time now to inspect all our safety gear. A little attention to flares, fire extinguishers, EPIRBs, and the like can pay off in a lot of peace of mind—and could very well save the lives of you and your loved ones.

Use the checklist on the following pages to make sure your gear is in proper working order. And when you’re done reading it, download our checklist in a two-page format to keep onboard your boat for future spring launches.

One more tip before lines off: Make sure your boat registration, insurance, and/or captain’s license are up to date and stowed in a safe place.

Fair skies and calm seas to you all this season. —Diane M. Byrne

CO/Smoke Detectors
TEST ALL UNITS ONBOARD; both types of detectors are equipped with buttons or switches for this purpose, so follow the manufacturer's directions

IF YOU DON'T HAVE CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS onboard, install one just inside the aft saloon door and another just outside the forward cabin, as the odorless, noxious gas typically enters closest to the engine room and settles forward

CONSIDER INSTALLING GASOLINE FUME DETECTORS AS WELL; some models automatically activate engine-room blowers

ALSO CONSIDER INSTALLING SMART KAP, a soon-to-be-released product that automatically activates your engine-room blowers when you unscrew your fuel cap; it's from the same company that created the FuelSense fuel-tank alarm system (see "Fuel Proof," April 2004)

CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE on the side of the housing; if it is within 90 days, return the unit to its manufacturer for battery replacement. Do not attempt to replace it yourself, or you may compromise the unit's waterproof integrity. Note the new expiration date in your log book


IF YOU BUY A NEW 406 EPIRB (whether automatic or manual activation), make sure you register it properly with the Coast Guard; you can do it online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov

TEST YOUR 406 EPIRB by following the instructions that came with the unit

IF YOU HAVE A 121.5 EPIRB, test it by first tuning your FM radio to 99.5 and then depressing the unit's key; if the EPIRB is working properly, the tones will come through the radio. Also, remember that testing is restricted to the first five minutes of every hour and that just three tones (or one second of operational transmission) can be emitted

Fire Extinguishers
CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE OF EACH ONE; if it's approaching within the next 90 days, properly dispose of the extinguisher, buy a new one, and note that unit's expiration date in your log book


CHECK THE PRESSURE GAUGE; if in doubt that it reads in the safe zone, dispose of the extinguisher and buy a new one


IF YOU'VE USED THE EXTINGUISHER-even for just a short burst-replace it

MAKE SURE YOUR EXTINGUISHERS are rated for the right type of fires-A, B, or C-and stowed handily where those types of fires might break out

IF YOU HAVE A DRY-CHEMICAL EXTINGUISHER, turn the unit upside down and shake it vigorously, as the contents often settle to the bottom

IF YOU HAVE A FIXED SYSTEM (usually in the engine room), the only way you can determine whether it's fully charged is to accurately weigh the container. This is a job for a professional

CHECK THE EXPIRATION DATE; if it's within the next 90 days, dispose of the flares by giving them to your local fire department, Power Squadron, or U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or igniting them in a safe place ashore in an authorized manner. Then buy a new set and note the expiration date in your log book


Next page > Part 2: Liferafts, Handheld VHFs, PFDs, Misc > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the March 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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