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VOL. 10 NO. 7
Take a class

Visual distress signals

You now have alternatives to pyrotechnic devices

Rough weather on the water

According to U.S. Coast Guard regulations, vessels operating on U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes and territorial seas must carry approved visual distress signals. Boaters can choose from pyrotechnic or non-pyrotechnic devices.

If you choose pyrotechnic devices, the U.S. Coast Guard, law enforcement and United States Power Squadrons vessel examiners will be looking for at least three devices with valid expiration dates. Outdated devices can result in a failed vessel safety check, a fine during a law enforcement stop or dashed hopes during an emergency.

If you carry a USCG-approved day distress flag and a USCG-approved S.O.S flashing strobe, you no longer need to worry about pyrotechnic expiration dates.

“The more, the merrier” is a good strategy for safety equipment, and I recommend keeping non-pyrotechnics on board in addition to pyrotechnic visual distress signals. Make sure the batteries in your strobe stay fresh, and contact a friendly vessel examiner if you need a vessel safety check.
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