FAQ Friday: What Visual Distress Signals must I carry on my boat?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Standard_Marine_Distress_Signals_ResizeA: Visual distress signals are required to be carried onboard vessels operating on the Great Lakes, High Seas, Territorial Seas and connecting waters seaward of a point where the entrance exceeds 2 nautical miles, with certain exceptions.

Devices carried can include either pyrotechnic devices: orange smoke (day), hand-held red flare (day/night), red parachute flare (day/night), and red star shell (day/night), or non-pyrotechnic devices: orange distress flag (day), and auto SOS lantern (night).

Vessels must carry at least 3 day and 3 night, or 3 day/night flares if carrying pyrotechnic devices; or carry 1 day and 1 night if non-pyrotechnic devices; or any combination of devices that meet these requirements. Examples of possible combinations are; 1) a distress lantern and 3 orange smoke, or 2) the orange distress flag and a distress lantern, or 3) 3 day/night flares.

For more information on exemptions and proper use of visual distress signals, see A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats.

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