Updated: Mar 8, 2022
All vessels used on coastal waters, the Great Lakes, territorial seas, and those waters connected directly to them, up to a point where a body of water is less than two miles wide must be equipped with U.S.C.G. Approved visual distress signals.
The following vessels are NOT required to carry day signals but must carry night signals when operating from sunset to sunrise:
Recreational boats less than 16 feet in length
Boats participating in organized events such as races, regattas, or marine parades
Open sailboats less than 26 feet in length not equipped with propulsion machinery
Manually propelled boats
The following illustrates the variety and combination of devices which can be carried in order to meet the requirements:
Three hand-held red flares (day and night)
One handheld red flare and two parachute flares (day and night)
Having distress signals aboard is the law, but also having them on board may save your life.
For additional visibility a 12 Gauge Flare launcher can be seen by rescue craft from a further distance away,
Also, make sure they are not out of date before you go out on the water. You are required to have flares that are not expired. If they are expired there is a chance that they might not work properly.