Before you even think of taking your brand new boat out for a trip on the water it is in your own best interest to take a boat safety course and have a boat safety inspection to check for the mandatory safety equipment. The US Coast Guard can provide you with a list of mandatory as well as suggested boat safety equipment.
Life jackets, or personal floating devices as they are officially called, should be readily available for every occupant of the vessel. They should also be adjusted to the size of the person who is intended to wear them in case of an emergency. They should be in good working order with all the straps and clips in place and operational. It is a good idea to have them fitted to the persons so that if necessary they can be put on without much further adjusting. In some states there is a minimum age for which the wear of a life jacket is obligated at all times.
As a large part of boating safety there should also be present on board a recently inspected fire extinguisher. It should be clearly marked so that anybody can spot it if necessary and get to it in time. There are different types of fire extinguishers, designed to extinguish different kinds of fires. For boating safety it is advisable to get a Type B or C fire extinguisher, these are designed for tackling fires originated or fueled by oil, grease and gas, or electrical fires.
Sanitation plays his Part in Boating Safety
If your vessel has a certain size, most states will require the presence of some sort of sanitation devices as a part of the boating safety as well as for health purposes. Make sure they are Coast Guard approved and are specifically designed for use on board a vessel.
Flare guns, or visual distress signals are another thing that most states will require as a part of the boating safety equipment. In case of an emergency these can send a bright signal in the skies, alerting the rescue forces to your position. The flare gun must again be readily accessible for a speedy use, but on the other hand they must be stored safely and out of reach of children, as they can cause a lot of damage when wrongly used.
As a final part of boating safety, especially for boats with gasoline engines and specifically when the engine is mounted in the vessel, good ventilation is cardinal. Not only to avoid any buildup of carbon monoxide, endangering the crew with poisoning, but also to prevent gasoline fumes from building up and becoming a serious fire hazard.