About the Study Guide

You are looking at a preview of what’s in the timed Arkansas Boat Ed Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Arkansas Boating Safety Education Certificate.

Learn More Register for the Course

Visual distress signals (VDSs) allow vessel operators to signal for help in the event of an emergency. 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).

  • Vessels on federally controlled waters must be equipped with USCG–approved VDSs. All vessels, regardless of length or type, are required to carry night signals when operating between sunset and sunrise. Most vessels must carry day signals also; exceptions to the requirement for day signals are:
    • Recreational vessels that are less than 16 feet in length
    • Non-motorized open sailboats that are less than 26 feet in length
    • Manually propelled vessels
  • VDSs are not required on Arkansas state waters, but it is strongly recommended that you carry VDSs on your vessel.
  • VDSs must be USCG–approved, in serviceable condition, and readily accessible.
  • If pyrotechnic VDSs are used, they must be dated. Expired VDSs may be carried on board, but a minimum of three unexpired VDSs must be carried in the vessel.
  • It is prohibited to display VDSs while on the water unless assistance is required to prevent immediate or potential danger to persons on board a vessel.