Video: Preparing for Emergencies
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You know this is when it happens most. Good visibility, nice weather, inland lake, little bit of wind, it’s the perfect combination for fun. And sooner or later, an oops moment, an oops moment.
Look, even if we’re really careful, the most seasoned boaters will eventually have an oops moment. But, it’s knowing what to do and the causes that can be the difference between an oops moment and a deadly situation.
So let’s consider the two major causes of boating incidents, swamping and capsizing.
Swamping and Capsizing
Prevention is the best way to avoid these situations. And that means avoiding the causes of swamping and capsizing. And the common causes are an overloaded boat, unsecured and shifting loads, rough water, careless handling, and abrupt stops.
Still, stuff happens, so you’ve got to know what to do if your boat takes a dive. You should always wear a lifejacket while on the water. But if you’re not wearing one, now is the time to grab and put one on. If you can’t put it on, hang onto it. And unless you’re very near to shore or rescue is close by, stay with the boat. It offers the best visual signal that you need help. Do a head count and make sure everyone gets to and stays with the boat. And get everyone on the portion of the boat that’s still above water.
Most boats are designed to stay partially afloat if they capsize, but if yours sinks or floats away, you have got a bigger problem. So what are you going to do?
Whoa. Hold on. Panicking is only going to make things worse. Panicking is not going to help. Instead, follow the same rules and try to keep everyone afloat, together, and calm.
I know what you’re thinking. Me? Capsize, swamp? No way. But what if someone falls overboard, then what?
Again, prevention is the key. So let’s first try to avoid these common causes: slipping or losing your balance while moving around the boat, reaching for objects in the water, striking another boat or object, or suddenly grounding or stopping your boat. People falling overboard happens all the time, so the best way to be prepared is to know what to do.
First, have someone keep a constant set of eyes on the person overboard. Throttle down and toss them a lifejacket if they don’t already have one. Get on their downwind side, turn off the engine, and help them aboard if they need it. Hey, you better dry off. You’re shivering. This gives you an idea of what it could be like if the water was cold and you couldn’t get out of it.
For situations like that, you have to know what to do to survive cold water immersion.
Surviving Cold Water Immersion
Just because it’s sunny and warm outside doesn’t mean that water temperature can’t kill you. Cold water immersion ranges from immediate cold shock to post-immersion collapse. So follow these steps. Keep calm and control your breathing. Get out of the water as soon as possible. If you can’t, keep your head and neck out of the water. Huddle with others to retain body heat. Or, if you’re alone, keep your knees and arms in and float to conserve energy. And once out of the water, get to dry clothes, shelter, and warmth immediately.
And if you find yourself in trouble, don’t be shy about signaling for help. That’s what this stuff is for, remember? Other ways you can call for help include a marine radio, a cell phone, or an emergency beacon. And always respond quickly to someone else’s signal for help.
And even if you check the weather before heading out, sometimes, it can change unexpectedly. And if that happens, you need to prepare your boat and your passengers to either ride out the storm or seek shelter on shore.
Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect. And even if you are a boating expert, there are still things beyond your control. But being prepared for the oops by avoiding the causes is the best way to keep yourself and your passengers safe.