Go To The Homepage
Boat & Motor Reviews


Aside from U.S. Coast Guard and state boating safety requirements, you owe it to yourself and your passengers to have quality safety equipment on board that meets or exceeds those requirements.
By Fred Golofaro
For more information:
View Website Orion Safety Products

Orion has been providing mariners with emergency marine signals for more than 50 years is while they are probably best known for their broad selection of visual distress signals, they manufacture a complete line of safety equipment that also includes items like first aid kits, air horns, distress flags and signaling mirrors.

Their extensive lineup of distress signals includes hand held, aerial, smoke, and pyrotechnical signals. The U.S. Coast Guard requires all boats 16 feet in length or longer to carry U.S. Coast Guard approved day and night visual flares. Orion has numerous kits to choose from and all meet Coast Guard requirements. Selecting a kit for your boat is an important decision that should an emergency arise, can have a major impact on the safety, and possibly even the survival, of you and your crew.

Many anglers and boaters settle on the minimum to meet safety requirements which might be okay if you never stray more than a few miles from port in relatively protected waters, but anyone who ventures offshore or far from port should give serious consideration to equipping their vessel with the best safety equipment available and also exceeding the number of signals/flares that are required.

You should know too that distress signals are categorized by Locate Signals and Alert Signals. Locate Signals (hand-held flares) are visible up to three miles away. Alert Signals (pyrotechnical signals) can be seen as far away as 40 miles. Definitely something to consider if you are fishing beyond the 20 fathom line, and especially if you do any canyon fishing.

It is very easy to save a few bucks when you're standing in the aisle of your boating supply store, but that perspective changes quickly when you find yourself in a dangerous situation on the water. Personally, I prefer having one of their pyrotechnical signaling kits onboard (which include a flare gun), despite the limitations of my 17 footer.

Another item that all too often goes overlooked on many boats is a well-stocked first aid kit.

Keep in mind that these signaling devices all carry expiration dates. For one thing, they will not pass coast guard inspection should you be boarded, but more important, they will likely do you no good in a situation in which they are really needed. It also can't hurt to add basic signaling devices like a signaling mirror and distress flag to your signaling kit.

Sounding devices are required on every vessel below 65 feet. It can be as simple as a whistle or you can spend a few bucks and go for an air horn. My preference is to carry both in case there is ever an issue with the horn, you can fall back on the whistle. But if you find yourself navigating in pea soup fog, what would you feel better about another vessel hearing, especially if they are under power – the piercing sound of an air horn that can carry a long distance or a whistle?

If you are a kayaker, you definitely want to check out Orion's Kayak Signal Kit. You may plan on never being far from land and signaling kits are not required for vessels under 16 feet, but all too often we hear of kayak anglers getting overwhelmed by strong winds or currents that carry them much further offshore and unable to get back to shore. You can't put a price on the cost of a flare kit under those circumstances.

Another item that all too often goes overlooked on many boats is a well-stocked first aid kit. Orion offers several hard and soft pack kits in the lineup but for my money, the only sensible choices, depending on the size of your boat and available storage space is their Offshore Sportfisher Kit which measures 19 x 10-3/4 inches and contains a total of 165 items. For boats under 25 feet, their Cruiser Kit, which contains 158 pieces and measures 7 x 10 inches is a wise choice.

Orion's website features a great Resource Center that details the proper use of flares, marine safety tips and includes a number of helpful videos, as well as their complete line of marine safety and signal products. Also be sure to check out The Fisherman's video on Boating Safety Tips below.