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In times of serious boating emergencies, the ability to summon help quickly can make the difference between life and death. Here are some items that you should carry on board to help get assistance quickly.

Visual Distress Signals

It is recommended that you have and know how to use visual distress signals. Carry extras. Always respond immediately to other boaters displaying a distress signal.

VHF Marine Radio

Consider purchasing a Very High Frequency (VHF) marine radio. VHF marine radios have channels that are reserved for distress calls and are monitored continuously by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

Cell Phone

If you own a cell phone, include it as part of your standard boating gear. Keep a list of appropriate phone numbers on board.

  • Use it to call 911 or another water rescue authority in your area.
  • Cell phones may be useful for contacting local law enforcement agencies. However, they have serious limitations and should not be used as a substitute for a VHF radio.

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)

If you operate far from shore, you should seriously consider carrying appropriate communications gear. A satellite EPIRB is designed to quickly and reliably alert rescue forces, indicate an accurate distress position, and guide rescue units to the distress scene, even when all other communications fail.