Everything You Need to Pack to Keep Your Family Safe & Happy on the Water

Embarking on an all-day water adventure with your family can be an exhilarating experience for everyone. Whether you’re planning a day out to sea, an overnight boating trip, or a party at the sand bar, making sure that everyone is safe and happy throughout is the most important priority.

That’s where being really prepared comes into play. Proper preparation and packing can make all the difference in the world between a happy, memorable outing and a frustrating or stressful one. In today’s guide, we’re going to cover just about everything you need to pack to keep your family safe and happy while you enjoy your day out on the water.

Before you set sail, let’s dive into a conversation about why boating safety is so crucial. Not only does it protect you and your crew from potential harm, but it also safeguards your boat and any other vessels you might encounter while you’re out enjoying the water.

Now, imagine you’re gearing up for your boating adventure. You’ve got your cooler packed, sunscreen applied, and excitement building. But before you even hit the water, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with all the risks and necessary safety precautions. From knowing how to navigate safely to understanding emergency procedures, being fully prepared can make all the difference in the world.

Let’s start with the basics: the Vessel Safety Check program. Did you know that the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary offers this service for free? Since 1947, they’ve been providing boat owners with thorough inspections to ensure compliance with federal and state safety regulations. It’s like a safety check-up for your boat! Plus, if you pass, you’ll receive a sticker that signals to law enforcement that your vessel is up to snuff.

During these safety checks, trained examiners meticulously inspect everything from navigation lights to fire extinguishers. They’ll even make sure you’ve got enough life jackets for everyone on board. But it’s not just about ticking off boxes – these inspectors will also provide valuable insights into safety procedures and practices, ensuring you’re well-equipped to handle any situation that arises on the water.

Next up, let’s talk about emergency plans. Filing a float plan with a trusted individual ensures that someone knows where you’ll be and when you plan to return. It’s a simple step that can be a lifesaver in an emergency. And while we’re on the topic of emergencies, knowing basic CPR can truly be a game-changer, especially when help is far away!

Now, let’s talk weather. As any seasoned boater knows, Mother Nature can be unpredictable. That’s why it’s essential to stay informed about weather conditions before and during your voyage. Keep an eye out for sudden changes in wind or sky color – they could be signs of trouble ahead. When in doubt, pack it up and head in to avoid being caught in a storm.

Of course, no boating excursion is complete without a well-stocked safety kit. From life jackets to signalling devices, having the right gear on board is non-negotiable. So we’ve put together a handy little packing list to get you started. 

Packing the Safety Essentials

When it comes to gathering all the necessary safety gear, you can never pack too much. Here’s a rough list of things you’ll want to make sure you bring along on your next boat day — but be aware that your specific itinerary might call for additional items. 

  • Life jackets: You’re required to make sure that every member of your family has a properly fitted and Coast Guard-approved life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) onboard — and preferably on them at all times while you’re out on the water. 


  • First aid kit: You’re also going to want to pack a comprehensive first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary medications. Bonus points for bringing a waterproof marine first aid kit on the boat!


  • Communication devices: Bring a fully charged cell phone or VHF radio for emergencies and to stay connected.


  • Navigation equipment: Have your navigation tools like a GPS or navigational chart to help you maneuver safely, especially if you’re venturing into unfamiliar waters or aren’t a regular boater. 


  • Flares and distress signals: Have emergency flares or distress signals onboard in case of an emergency. Better safe than sorry!


  • Sun protection: Even if it appears to be overcast, you’re going to want to pack all the sun protection essentials. This includes broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF rating to protect against harmful UV rays. (Also, remember to reapply regularly, especially after swimming!)


  • Hats, sunglasses, and sun-protective clothing: Pack up those wide-brimmed hats and UV-protective sunglasses for everyone to shield their faces and eyes directly from the sun. If you have it, you may also want to consider throwing in any lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants made from UPF-rated fabrics to provide additional sun protection.


  • Water and snacks: Bring plenty of H2O to keep your family hydrated throughout the day, especially if you’re spending a significant portion of it under the sun. You will also want to bring a variety of nutritious snacks such as fruits, nuts, and granola bars to keep energy levels up and hunger at bay.


  • Towels, blankets, and warm clothes: Pack towels for drying off after swimming and blankets for lounging on the beach or boat. And even if it’s supposed to be warm and balmy all day long, play it safe by bringing a sweatshirt or warmer layer for when the sun dips below the sky. 


  • Trash bags: Pack trash bags to dispose of any waste responsibly and keep the environment clean.


  • Games and activities: Bring along games, books, or toys to keep everyone entertained during downtime.


As you gear up for your next boating adventure, remember: safety first, fun second. 

By packing these essentials, you can ensure that your family stays safe, comfortable, and happy during your water adventures. Remember to plan ahead, check weather conditions, and adhere to safety guidelines to make the most of your time on the water. With proper preparation, you can create lasting memories and enjoyable experiences for your loved ones. 

So, grab your gear, pack your bags, and get ready for a fantastic day on the water with your family!

Stay Safe All Season Long with Morningstar Marinas

At Morningstar Marinas, we pride ourselves on the community of boaters we’ve created across the Southeast’s top boating destinations. Our facilities and services paired with our friendly and knowledgeable team members will help you quickly and efficiently get out there on the water, so you can start having fun! Morningstar Marinas is more than just a place to store your boat — we’re here to offer you an unforgettable boating experience, every time.