Essential safety equipment to have on-board

There are a number of essential pieces of equipment that you should have onboard your vessel for any trip. Other equipment may be required depending on the area that you intend to cruise around and the distance offshore.

Life jackets and flotation devices

Make sure you have enough life jackets in a serviceable condition for everyone on board. They should also be fitted properly, especially children’s life jackets, which should be fitted by a trained professional. For more information on how to make sure a life jacket fits correctly and how to wear one, see the links below:

RYA, RNLI and MCA video

RNLI life jacket Guide

We highly recommend wearing a life jacket, or flotation device for water-related activities, at all times. A properly maintained inflatable life jacket will keep your head out of the water and will right you onto your back if you are face down in the water, increasing your chances of survivability should you end up in the water.

It is essential that your life jackets are maintained properly to ensure they will work when you need them the most. Automatic life jacket inflation components usually need to be replaced at a certain time period and will be stamped with a manufacture and/or expiry date. If you are unsure, take your life jacket to a local reseller/chandlery for a service.

Jersey Coastguard in conjunction with the RNLI also offer life jacket clinics. These are free inspections of life jackets, where we can advise on their condition and any remedial action that may be required. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and this website for more information on these events. If you are interested in arranging a clinic for your group or boat owners association, email

Life rafts

Life rafts are available for almost all types of vessel, from four-man rafts that are in a holdall style carry case, to larger rafts that can be mounted on wheelhouse roofs. Life rafts must be maintained regularly. Ensure you are competent with how to launch your life raft when you need it.

Flares and pyrotechnics

Flare packs can be purchased locally through a marine chandlery store. Choose the pack you require based on the area you are intending to cruise around (inshore, coastal or offshore). The retailer will be able to advise you on the most suitable pack. Always replace flares when they become out of date.

You can usually dispose of old and expired flares with the retailer when purchasing a new set, or take them to the recycling depot at La Collette, handing them over to the recycling officer to be disposed of properly. Never dispose of flares with general rubbish due to the risk of fire or explosion causing serious harm.

It is an offence to dispose of flares into the sea or fire your flares off (and this includes Bonfire Night on 5 November) other than in an emergency situation.

First aid kit

Keep a suitably stocked first aid kit onboard, considering the distance from shore you are intending on cruising. A first aid course is also strongly recommended, in particular one focused on the marine environment.

Fire extinguishers

You should carry fire extinguishers on board. Make sure you know what type you need to have and what type of fires they can be used on. If you have a built-in system in the engine area, ensure it is correctly maintained and you are aware of how to operate it if required.


There is a range of new products available on the market for alerting the Coastguard of distress on your vessel. Seek advice on the best suited products for your vessel and cruising area from local resellers. Ensure they are tested using the test function at the manufacturer’s prescribed intervals and replace batteries when required. If you accidentally activate one of these products, phone Jersey Coastguard immediately on +44 (0) 1543 447705.

Other equipment to consider

Torches, fresh bottled water, handheld devices eg VHF (when in your tender), GPS.

Advice on Board sessions

If you are uncertain or need advice, in conjunction with the RNLI, we can provide you with an ‘Advice on Board‘ consultation session.

This free service can be done on a range of watercraft including boats, kayaks and jet-skis and will show you the safety equipment you need to carry and what to do when things go wrong. Life jacket inspections can also be carried out.