What Should Be in My Boat Safety Kit?

Ben Franklin’s observation that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is good advice under any circumstances, but uniquely and immensely appropriate for the open waters and your boat safety kit.

When getting ready for a voyage, there is no such thing as being overly prepared. When an emergency occurs afloat, help is not near-at-hand. Keeping your vessel in good operating order through frequent maintenance checks and regular vessel safety inspections is essential. But in addition to preventative measures, you need to outfit your boat with a safety kit.  

Here are four key tips for making and keeping your boat safety kit:

1. Start with a Chart

Carry current nautical charts for the waters you will be navigating. Because charts are routinely updated, check to be sure that your charts are the most recent by visiting OceanGrafix

2. Be Prepared for Repair

Assemble a collection of tools and parts for boat repairs that you are able to perform. Get to know your vessel and understand how it works. 

3. Grade Your First Aid

Evaluate the first aid items you need onboard, and don’t forget that you’ll need to store them in waterproof containers. Here’s a checklist of items to include: 

  • Personal health care items for all on board, such as medications and devices, as well as directions for use and emergency phone numbers, including poison control.
  • Medical history and medical consent forms or all on board
  • First aid manual
  • Over the counter medications for adults and children
    • Activated charcoal tablets
    • Analgesics (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen)
    • Antacid
    • Antibiotic cream or ointment
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antihistamine cream for allergic reaction
    • Antihistamine tablets for allergic reaction
    • Anti-itch treatment  
    • Antiseptic cream or ointment
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Blister treatment
    • Cough medicine
    • Eye wash
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Hydrogen peroxide
    • Insect sting treatment
    • Laxative
    • Lubricating eye drops
    • Oral rehydration salt solution
    • Petroleum jelly
    • Rash cream
    • Sterile saline
    • Sugar for hypoglycemia
    • Sunburn treatment
    • Sun screen
    • Syrup of Ipecac
    • Throat lozenges
  • Emergency equipment
    • Cell phones and solar chargers in water proof containers
    • Heat reflecting blanket
    • Waterproof flashlights and head lamps with extra batteries
    • Waterproof matches
  • Medical equipment
    • Breathing barrier with one-way valve
    • Bulb syringe
    • Cotton balls and swabs
    • Dosing cups and syringes
    • Duct tape
    • Fine point tweezers
    • Instant cold compress
    • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
    • Non-latex gloves
    • Note pad and pencil
    • Oral thermometer (non-glass and non-mercury)
    • Medical waste disposal containers, including bin for sharps
    • Multi-tool with knife
    • Plastic bags in assorted sizes
    • Safety pins
    • Scalpel
    • Scissors in various sizes, including sharp and blunt point
    • Super glue
  • Wound dressings and injury treatment
    • Absorbent compresses
    • Adhesive bandages in assorted shapes and sizes, including butterfly bandages
    • Adhesive cloth tape
    • Elastic wrap bandages
    • Gauze pads in assorted sizes
    • Gauze rolls in assorted widths
    • Liquid bandage
    • Self-adhesive bandage wrap
    • Sterile eye dressings
    • Triangular bandages

4. Don’t Set It and Forget It

Check your safety kit regularly to be sure it is complete and up to date. Check expiration dates and replace expired supplies.  Replenish any used contents. 

Ben Franklin also advised “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.”  Take the time to prepare and maintain a comprehensive safety kit for your safe voyages and happy returns to port.

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