Survival Gear Bags

Get insight into how to assemble boat safety and survival gear in a single grab-and-go ditch bag.
Ditch bag stocked with electronics
Courtesy ACR Electronics Inc. A properly stocked ditch bag can facilitate a quick rescue.

This article originally appeared on BoatingMag.com

Signaling devices, electronic and otherwise, prove critical to summon assistance in an emergency. And it is a good idea to keep them all together in a ditch bag you can grab quickly.

ACR makes the buying process easier with pre-assembled survival kits contained in its RapidDitch Express bags that feature a bright Day-Glo yellow color with reflective panels. The 21-by-14.5-by-6-inch bag has pockets, tethers and loops to store safety items. It will float with up to 15 pounds of gear in an abandon-ship scenario. The shoulder strap unhooks to form two 4-foot safety harnesses that you can clip to a life jacket to keep souls connected in the water. Here are four kits suitable for 21- to 40-foot recreational powerboats on inland, nearshore and offshore waters.

GlobalFix V4 EPIRB Survival Kit

Items in this ACR survival kit include ACR’s GlobalFix V4 EPIRB (with a Cat 2 manual bracket), a C-Strobe H2O rescue light, signal mirror, Res-Q whistle, and HemiLight 3. ($559.95)

ResQKit

This kit’s ACR electronic ResQFlare and distress flag allow boaters to forgo the Coast Guard requirement to carry traditional pyrotechnic flares. Other items include ACR’s GlobalFix V4 EPIRB, a C-Strobe H2O rescue light, signal mirror, Res-Q whistle and HemiLight 3. ($615.95)

GlobalFix V4 + ResQLink 400 kit

This one combines a ResQLink 400 PLB with a GlobalFix V4 EPIRB for multiple means of alerting rescuers to your location. It also includes the Firefly Pro Waterbug strobe light, a signal mirror, Res-Q whistle and HemiLight 3, but does not include an electronic ResQFlare and distress flag. ($809.95)

ResQKit Pro

The Pro version adds the ResQLink 400 PLB to the basic ResQKit. It also includes a ResQFlare electronic distress flare, distress flag, Firefly Pro Waterbug strobe light, signal mirror, Res-Q whistle and HemiLight 3. ($869.95)

Register Your EPIRB and PLB

Whether you purchased a new EPIRB or PLB (known collectively as SARSAT beacons), or want to have a unit reassigned, you need to register it with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to enable rescue agencies to identify the beacon owner and the boat, and hasten the response time.The fastest way to register is online at beaconregistration.noaa.gov. It’s free, but you need to complete the online form with the beacon’s 15-character unique identifier, along with your name, address, email and phone number, and primary and alternate emergency contacts.

Since an EPIRB belongs to a boat (not to a person, as a PLB does), you need to describe the boat, including the type, size, usage, name, color, registration or documentation number, and home port. The form also asks you to list the communication equipment on board, such as a VHF and the MMSI (maritime mobile service identity). You can also add boat information to the PLB registration.

A hard copy of the registration and a registration decal will be mailed to you within two weeks. When you receive these documents, confirm the label agrees with the information on the beacon. If so, affix the decal in the marked area on the beacon.

Beacon registrations need to be renewed every two years, or whenever ownership or the boat on which an EPIRB resides changes. NOAA will notify you via email when renewal is due. It can be completed quickly online at beaconregistration.noaa.gov, and you’ll receive a new decal to replace the old one.

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