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Winterizing Your Boat Tips

Posted By Gail Kulp, Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Winterizing Your Boat Tips

It’s that time of year again – the time where northern boaters either remove their boats from the water for the winter or prepare for them to continue to be in use during freezing conditions and southern and western boaters perform regular maintenance before the High Season starts.


Not only is winterization an important part of maintaining your boat and ensuring it’s around for many seasons to come, it’s also important from a safety standpoint, keeping you and your loved ones, as well as your favorite waterways, safe and sound.


Here are five winterization tips from the Sea Tow Foundation:


·       Drain water – This may seem like common sense for many boaters, but you’d be surprised how many skip this critical winterization step. If you store your boat on land or in the water in cold weather,  it’s important to drain all water lines and use marine-specific anti-freeze to prevent critical engine and other components from freezing as the temperatures drop. Even states with warmer climates can see a handful of below freezing days or nights so this is important for these boaters as well. Also take the time to check the boat plug and window seals to ensure they are ready for the cold weather as well.


·       Properly dispose of all fluids and other hazardous materials – Proper winterization always includes changing your boat’s oil. Some boaters will also swap out batteries, check belts and hoses for leaks and follow other specific steps when getting their boat ready for winter in the cold regions or warmer climates. Remember to properly dispose of oil and batteries, as they can all be extremely harmful to the environment. If you’re not sure where  you can dispose of these in your area, check with your marina or local authorities like the U.S. Coast Guard or police marine unit.


·       Clean and inspect  all life jackets  – In order to be sure your life jackets are effective and able to work when needed, it’s important to properly clean them before storing them over the winter months or continuing to use them in the warmer climates. Mold and mildew can be a problem, but the Sea Tow Foundation has some simple steps that you can take to clean and dry them. And if you have any life jackets that no longer fit your boat’s passengers, you can always donate them to a local Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Drive!


·       Boat cleaning the eco-friendly way – Life jackets aren’t the only things on your boat that can become dirty. If you’re not careful, you may find mold all throughout your vessel, so it is important to scrub the boat with eco-friendly cleaners that won’t harm the environment before shrink wrapping the boat if you are planning to store the boat on land. If the boat is being used throughout the winter, it is still a good idea to give it a good cleaning before continued use.


·       Double check all safety equipment – Now is the perfect time to double check all of your boat’s safety equipment. This includes your VHF radio,  air horn, safety flares, lines, throwable buoys, boat hooks, fire extinguishers, and the first aid kit.  Make sure that nothing is expired or needs to be replaced or replenished. If so, take the time to get these items before the end of the year.  


What other tips do you have when it comes to boat winterization? Share your favorite tips in the comments below!

Tags:  Automated Radio Check  life jacket donation  life jacket drive  radio check  tips for winterizing boat  used life jacket  winter boating  winterize boat 

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Get into the Spirit of Giving with a Life Jacket Drive this Holiday Season

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, November 15, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Get into the Spirit of Giving with a Life Jacket Drive this Holiday Season

With the winter holidays just around the corner, there’s no better time than now to get into the spirit of giving. And if you’re a boater that cares about safety, there’s no better way to give than by collecting new or gently used life jackets for use at a local Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station!

As everyone is putting up their boats for the winter up north or making plans to take a break from boating during the busy winter months down south, this is the best time to gather up any life jackets that may not be needed next season. Whether the kids have outgrown the life jackets or they have become surplus in your boat’s supply, gently used life jackets can still help save a life on your local waterways.

Hosting a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Drive is an easy way to make a huge impact on your local boating community. Simply visit and download the program manual, signage, flyers and other promotional materials to get the word out about your drive. You can also request box labels for your life jacket collection boxes and those will be mailed to you for free.

Many organizations that accept donations of clothing, toys and household items can’t accept life jackets because the staff lack the training to identify whether the life jackets meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements. Thankfully, the Life Jacket Drive’s Program Manual provides you with the tools to confidently inspect the donated life jackets, including a checklist like the one shown below.

Add it all up, and there’s no better time to host a Life Jacket Drive in your hometown. This holiday season protect a life by donating a vest. And, best of all, the donated life jackets will stay in your local boating community as part of a life jacket loaner station that local boaters can borrow and return.

Tags:  2019-20  Grants  Life Jacket  Life Jacket Drive  Life Jacket Loaner Partnership  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Life Jacket Loaner Station Grant 

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Tips for Cleaning Life Jackets

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Updated: Monday, May 18, 2020

Tips for Cleaning Life Jackets

Spring is a great time to clean your life jackets before getting ready to use them. Sometimes life jackets get put away for the winter and haven’t had a chance to dry out completely which can cause mold or mildew to grow. And southern locations where it is hot and humid throughout most of the year may find life jackets with spots on them. While this doesn’t look very pretty, it does not mean that the life jacket needs to be thrown away. They just need a chance to be cleaned and dried completely before use.

The following tips from our friends at Onyx Outdoor can be used to clean a life jacket of mold or mildew so that it can be safely used again. Just make sure you have a couple of days of dry weather in your forecast before starting.

  1. Use water and mild soap along with a soft brush or clean cloth to scrub the areas where the stains are located.
  2. Rinse with clean water.
  3. If you still notice stains, you may need to repeat the process a few times.
  4. When the life jacket is completely clean, hang it up to dry out of direct sunlight and do not put it back in use or into a storage container until it is completely dry.

Update added May 18, 2020

The following guidelines are provided by the Life Jacket Association on how to properly disinfect life jackets from the COVID-19 Virus.

1.      Use a 60-90% alcohol spray solution and spray the life jacket including the buckles, straps and zippers.

2.      While wearing gloves, hand wash the life jackets with hot water and mild soap. Rinse with clean water.

3.      Do not use bleach or put life jackets in a washing machine.

4.      Allow life jackets to dry completely for 72 hours (3 days) before reusing. Spreading them out in the sunshine and fresh air is the best option to dry them out completely.

Tags:  2018-19  Clean Life Jackets  Cleaning life jackets  Disinfecting life jackets  Education  Life Jacket Drive  Life Jacket Loaner Partnership  Mildew  Mold  Sea Tow 

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