I took a friend out on my 18 who used to sale on an 18 on Buzzards Bay. He couldn't believe all the safety gear I took but in FL when you go from 16-18 ft the rules get a lot stricter.
Obviously 1 PFD per. Each PFD should have a whistle for signaling permanently attached. Adult PFDs should also have a knife (not required) to cut yourself free if you get tangled.
Flare gun and flares, signaling mirror, dye packs, throwing ring or equivalent, anchor and line and a flashlight if you're out after dark. (Over 18ft requires full running lights). If you have a kicker motor you need an extinguisher. It's my understanding that's whats required.
We also take a dry box with a leatherman(knockoff), extra pins and rings, an extra small block and shackle, cell phone, boat papers, ID or wallet, and car keys. Also have a GPS and a VHF radio and air horn.
Believe it or not most of that stores inside the hulls of my 18. I have 1 box (that floats) appx. 16"x12"x2" and the cushion that is our throwing ring bungied to the
If you ever want to go out solo you should probably have a righting system. We have a Hawaiian system and a bag.
Not safety equip but you'll want a trap harness too.
By the way, Busse Lake looks like a good place to practice tacking if you get my drift.
The ox is slow but the earth is patient