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Part Three Boating Safety

Don't Get Soaked On Your Next Boating Adventure

Great adventures are waiting to be had on board your boat. Capers on the water deliver windswept smiles, tanned faces and exhilarated souls. However, before the journey can finish safely, it must begin safely. So, whether you're a pro or a novice, strengthen your safe-boating operations knowledge so you can have smooth sailing.

Let's examine what to do in case of a fall overboard. It happens all the time, and just because it may not have happened to you, it doesn't mean it won't. So, practice preventive measures and schedule regular drills on recovering people who have fallen overboard. Ensure safety during these drills and have everyone wear personal flotation devices (PFDs). Don't create a real situation by practicing without this safety device.

Preventive Measures

    • Always keep one hand fast on the boat or always try to maintain three points of contact with the boat: either two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot.

    • Avoid alcohol.

    • Do not sit on gunwales or seat backs.

    • Keep your passengers informed of all boating maneuvers. Turns and speed changes can make passengers' footing unstable and make them vulnerable to falling.

    • Wear the proper footwear and be careful of slippery or uneven surfaces.

    • Have everyone wear PFDs at all times, especially while under way.

Self-Rescue and Assisted Rescue

Slipped footing, alcohol, disorientation or any number of situations can cause even the seasoned boater to go overboard. To determine whether this situation is a "self-rescue" or an "assisted rescue," you will need to consider several things: Are there any injuries? How well can you or the other person swim? What are the weather and water conditions?

A self-rescue simply means the victim is able to get out of the water and into the boat without assistance. An assisted rescue means the victim, being impaired in some way, will need your help during recovery.

Eighty-two percent of fatalities occur on boats less than 26 feet long, according to the United States Coast Guard. The reasoning is that smaller boats are more subject to water conditions and tend to rock and roll more than the larger vessels. Each situation is different, and your reaction will depend on your circumstances. Assess your conditions and then strategize the recovery with the following tips:

    • Whether this is a self-rescue or an assisted rescue, stop the boat and throw a flotation device immediately to the victim, preferably an approved PFD.

    • Avoid going into the water yourself or sending someone to help the victim, but if someone must go into the water, MAKE SURE THEY WEAR A PFD.

    • Turn the boat and move closer to the victim. Get someone in the boat to keep an eye on the victim and continuously point at the victim. This is vitally important in the
      open ocean where someone can get lost quickly.

    • Approach the victim slowly, moving slightly windward. If the victim is unconscious or needs an assisted rescue, move past the person and position the boat so that
      it will float back toward the victim.

    • BE SURE TO SHUT OFF THE MOTOR when the victim is within reaching distance. If this is an assisted rescue, put on your PFD immediately. Hopefully, the victim
      will have his PFD on as well. His PFD will offer a nice handle to grab and recover the victim.

    • Help the victim into the boat. With an assisted recovery, this can be difficult. Slide the victim to the stern, the lowest point of the boat, by grabbing the bottom part of
      the PFD. Use the handle of the PFD to pull him into the boat. You can also reach under the arms to lift the person.

    • If the victim is well, talk about and determine the cause of the accident and evaluate the recovery effort so you can make any procedural improvements. If the victim is
      unconscious or in need of medical attention, seek the proper authorities.

    • If you have a radio, get help if necessary.

    • Lastly, it never hurts to get CPR certified with your local American Red Cross chapter.Some hospitals offer certification classes as well.

It's fun to plan a day on your boat; it's even more fun to experience it. Brush up on these rescue procedures and plan what to do "just in case," and you'll be sure to have a great time on your outing with your family and friends.

Bibliography:

    • All Volunteer Yacht Club (AVYC)

    • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

    • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

    • United States Power Squadron (USPS)

Sea Ray is proud to offer this safety information to increase your boating safety and enjoyment. These documents are provided for your personal information only, and you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any of these materials shall be at your sole risk. Sea Ray reserves the right, in its sole discretion and without any obligation, to make improvements to, or correct any error or omissions, in any portion of the information. Sea Ray hereby disclaims all liability to the maximum extent permitted by law in relation to this information and does not give any warranties, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any of the information provided.

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