Boat prepared

Washington state’s diverse waterways of rivers, lakes, bays, inlets and coastal areas require different skills, preparation and safety equipment. Research will help you determine what's best for you.

You’re required by law to carry specific safety equipment. Requirements vary according to size and type of boat or paddlecraft. The legal requirements are minimal and do not maximize your chance of being rescued in a timely manner if an accident happens. You’ll need additional equipment to be rescue ready, increase survival time and keep everyone safe.

Plan accordingly, be prepared and enjoy a lifetime of boating and paddling adventures!

  1. Required equipment
  2. Survival equipment
  3. Planning Tips

Federal and Washington state law requires the following on every boat, no matter what size, including kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards.

  • Life jackets U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, of the right size and type, for everyone on board
  • A sounding devicehorn, whistle or bell
  • A white navigation lightduring low visibility such as fog, heavy rain, dawn or dusk
  • Nighttime visual distress signal—such as flares (required on federal waterways only)

Depending on boat length and engine type, state law requires the following:

For a specific list of requirements by boat length and type, review the Washington State required equipment checklist (PDF).

Remember, these items are basic and won’t maximize your chance of survival in an accident. There’s additional gear necessary to be rescue ready.

PRO TIP: The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron (America’s Boating Club) offer free vessel safety checks (VSC). There is no charge, and no consequences if you don’t pass. Some will even meet you at your home. Schedule your VSC today! Local city and county marine law enforcement also provide a VSCs, contact them directly.