Signaling Devices

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Meet Coast Guard requirements for signaling devices.

Audible and visual signaling devices help us to safely navigate in the presence of other boats. Examples of signaling devices include horns, whistles, flares, radar reflectors, safety flags, mirrors, dye markers and safety lights. Horns are typically used to signal our intentions. For example, when overtaking another boat, one short blast means “I intend to leave you on my port side.” And two short blasts means “I intend to leave you on my starboard side.” Distress flares are an example of an emergency signaling device. Depending on atmospheric conditions, parachute flares can be seen by boats many miles away. The USCG requirements for audible and visual signals varies with boat size. For more about these requirements please read our West Advisor article US Coast Guard Required Equipment for Recreational Vessels.