The Handbook of Wisconsin Boating Laws and Responsibilities
The Official Boating Handbook of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Table of Contents
Visual Distress Signals (VDSs)
Visual Distress Signals (VDSs) allow vessel operators to signal for help in the event of an emergency.
Vessels on federally controlled waters must be equipped with visual distress signals. If pyrotechnic VDS are used, at least three must be carried in the vessel.
An operator who observes a distress signal must stop and render aid. It is prohibited to display visual distress signals unless assistance is needed.
VDSs are classified as day signals (visible in bright sunlight), night signals (visible at night), or both day and night signals. VDSs are either pyrotechnic (smoke and flames) or non-pyrotechnic (non-combustible).