Boater Safety

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY-Always know your location!

1. Select Distress channels: 16 VHF-FM (156.80 MHz) or 2182 kHz

  • If you have a radio, hail the Coast Guard: “MAYDAY - MAYDAY - MAYDAY, THIS IS

    THE (vessel name) (vessel name) (vessel name) OVER.”

  • Next, monitor channel for acknowledgment. If no response, repeat distress call. 

  •  If the Coast Guard or another vessel responds, say: “MAYDAY, THIS IS THE (vessel name/call sign)

  • State your location twice (latitude and longitude, Loran, or range and bearing from known point, etc.)

  • State the nature of distress, the kind of assistance desired, number of people on boardif any injuries were sustained, and the condition of the vessel. 

  •  Briefly describe vessel: Length, Type/Service, Color, etc.

  • Briefly describe type and amount of lifesaving equipment: Survival Craft, PFDs, EPIRB.

  • Say: “I WILL BE LISTENING ON CHANNEL ______________.”

  •  If situation permits, stand by the radio for further communication with the Coast Guard or another vessel.

  •  End by saying: “THIS IS THE (vessel name), OVER.”

2. Call 911

  • If you do not have a radio you can use your cellphone to call 911, the operator will dispatch the proper emergency personnel.

3. Distress Signals

  • Always carry flares, smoke, a horn, whistles or other attention-getting equipment. 
  • Try to get the distress signal as high up as possible for better visibility. 
  • Wave your arms over your head.


Give the following information:

  • Your position, and the bearing and distance to the vessel in distress.
  • Nature of distress if known.
  • Description of the vessel in distress (color, length, power or sail, etc.)
  • Your course and speed, etc.
  • Will you be assisting the distressed vessel?
  • Repeat your radio call sign and the name of your vessel, and give your listening frequency and schedule.

For more detailed information on emergency situation protocol and the laws concerning them, please download and print out the following information proved by the U.S. Coast Guard to store on your vessel:

And remember, wear your life jackets, don’t drink and boat, and keep a sharp eye out for debris in the water. 

Have Fun! Be Safe!