Boat Maintenance - Safety Equipment


Boat Maintenance – Safety Equipment

Correct for Area

Different safety equipment is required depending upon the distance you travel away from the shore. Regulations stipulate a level 50-100 life jacket is required for inshore waters where you are less than five nautical miles from the coast. Anything in open water over five nautical miles will require a jacket with buoyancy rating of 100+.

Two handheld red and two orange smoke flares are needed for inshore while two red parachute and two orange flares are required for offshore. An EPIRB and marine radio is required if you’re more than two nautical miles offshore however there are certain EPIRB exempt areas that you can find out about through your local government.

Life Jacket - Aquasport Nylon 50N (PFD2) Coastal PFD Level 150 Life Jacket



Inspect life jackets, flares and EPIRBs for any sign of wear or damage. While old or damaged life jackets are easy to dispose, EPIRBs should not be disposed of in general waste as they can end up in landfill and accidentally activate. Battery World stores will dispose of your old EPIRBs.

The safe disposal of expired flares is essential to prevent any injury from unintended, or deliberate ignition/firing in a non-emergency situation - e.g. flares are not to be disposed of in rubbish bins and landfills etc.

In some states it is a legal requirement that expired marine distress flares be handed in to a police station equipped to handle marine pyrotechnics. Refer to your local government to fin disposal centres in your state.


Expiry Dates


EPIRB batteries need to be replaced before the expiry date noted on the label of the beacon so it can transmit for the minimum time required once activated. Battery life varies from model to model and should be replaced by the manufacturer or their Australian agent.

EPIRBs must be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). Registration is free however this must be renewed every two years and you need to tell AMSA when the EPIRB ownership or boat details change.

Flares have a life span of approximately three years and must be replaced before the expiration date printed on them. Always read the instructions and make sure you understand the manufacturer’s directions before storing flares on your boat which is usually in a dry place where they’re easy to access in emergencies.


Inspect Anchor Line


Inspect anchor lines for any wear or damage to both the rope and chain to see if you need a new rope and chain kit. Rope can accumulate dirt and salt that can cause premature wear after time so frequently wash it with fresh water.

For a more thorough cleaning, soak your rope in warm water mixed with a mild detergent. Add a small amount of fabric softener to soften and use a front loading washing machine; otherwise, wash your rope in a mesh bag to avoid tangling. Rinse thoroughly and hang to dry in indirect sunlight.

Anchor Rope Kits - Stress Free Anchor - Rope/Chain (Rode) for Windlasses

Radio Checked


It is worth performing some regular maintenance on your marine radio to ensure it's in perfect working condition for when you need it in an emergency.

Check the antenna connection at the rear of the radio unit is not corroded. Unscrew the antenna and spray the connections with a marine lubricant such as Inox or Lanolin. Scrub any corrosion or salt residue off with a stiff toothbrush then do the same to the connection at the antenna base.

Check the antenna whip and cabling for any cracks, and replace if necessary. Check any inline fuses or fuse holders are not corroded, and apply a marine lubricant. Regularly request a “radio check” from a limited coast station to determine if your transmission distance is degrading over time.

Remember to adhere to local ‘radio silence’ periods in your area if applicable. For this information, refer to your local government for times and frequencies.


Bilge Pump


Vessels with covered bilges are required to be fitted with a bilge pump or pumps capable of draining each compartment of the vessel. They may be manual or powered and must be protected by a strainer to prevent choking of the pump suction.

Rule Manual Bilge Pump Rule-Mate Automatic Bilge Pump

Service Inflatable Lifejackets


Life jackets should be inspected and tested every twelve months and it is recommended that every third service be performed by an authorised agent.

Check all stitching, buckles and closures to see all are intact and working correctly. Check the bladder for any signs of obvious damage i.e. abrasions, cuts, holes, etc and check all reflective tape is stuck down and not peeling away.

Check the whistle function by blowing sharply through it. Depending on your model of jacket a green indicator clip, gas cylinders or automatic firing cartridges may need replacing. If your Inflatable PFD or a component fails any test the jacket must be taken to an authorised service centre for further testing.


Check Fire Extinguisher


Every boat heading out on the water should be equipped with a fire extinguisher and, indeed, most states have laws mandating fire extinguisher fitment to boats.

There are four types of fire extinguishers approved for boats: Foam (AS1841.1 and AS1841.4); Powder (AS1841.1 and AS1841.5); Carbon Dioxide (AS1841.1 and AS1841.6) and Vaporising Liquid (AS1841.1 and AS1841.7).

Foam fire extinguishers are most commonly used on carbonaceous materials such as wood, paper and textile. Powder extinguishers can be used most types of fires including electrical but are generally not suitable for confined places as they affect visibility and can cause breathing problems for some people. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is used on Class B (Flammable Liquid) fires and is safe to use on live electrical fires though they may cause damage to electrical components. Vaporising liquid extinguishers are similar to foam and are for use on combustibles such as wood, paper and textile.

Fire extinguishers should be inspected at least every six months. All extinguishers other than carbon dioxide have a pressure gauge indicating their state of charge, and a security seal on the trigger. They should be recharged if the seal is broken or the gauge is not in the green sector of the scale.

Dry chemical extinguishers should be taken off their bracket and shaken to prevent the powder inside from compacting. A carbon dioxide extinguisher needs to be checked by weight. If the loss is more than 10 per cent of the net weight of the contents, it needs to be recharged.

Fire Extinguisher 10ABE 1kg Fire Extinguisher CO2 5kg

Test Your EPIRB


Beacon batteries last for approximately five to ten years. Before the battery reaches its expiry date, consider the options to ensure that the beacon will transmit properly in an emergency situation.

If the battery was replaced or serviced by a non-certified service centre then the beacon is non-compliant for carriage requirements and there is a risk the beacon may not function correctly.

Every beacon has a self-test switch. Please ensure you follow the manufacturer's guidelines on how to perform a self-test and how often. Some manufacturers recommend that you self-test the beacon periodically, either once a month, or prior to a planned trip.

To find out how to correctly test a GME EPIRB, simply check out the instructional video below -

For more information on correctly servicing and maintain your safety equipment, check with the department of transport in your state.

Stay tuned for next time as well be discussing how to properly take care of some of your most important equipment on board including ropes, lines and navigation lights.

Category: Safety

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