A Mariner’s Most Dreaded Phrase, “Man Overboard”: Marine Safety training from the experts

By: Teresa O’Connor, Life Raft Survival Equipment, Inc.   teresa@LRSE.com

The  Switlik MOM 8-A is ideal for quick man overboard rescue.

All possible efforts and actions should constantly be made to ensure that this nightmare never occurs. Unfortunately Man overboard situations happen every year with devastating results. As the crew overboard, your primary concern is to stay alive long enough for the vessel to return to your position to make a successful recovery.

Should you ever find yourself in the water from a man overboard situation, your largest concerns are to stay afloat, stay warm, stay calm, stay still and stay together – the ‘Stay Rules’.  If you don’t have a lifejacket on, then you have a challenge of staying afloat. If you don’t have on the proper clothing and you stay in the water, hypothermia is a threat. If you don’t have a raft then staying together is a problem. If you panic you’re bound to move around and release body heat from your high heat areas not to mention all the other acts that will hurt your rescue.

Dan from LRSE trains crews for safety and
man overboard situations on boats like the
RAMBLER 100, and the Gunboat Phaedo
for transatlantic sailing races.

Unfortunately not too many mariners have had the opportunity to practice man overboard drills like cold water survival, the ‘Stay Rules’, and boarding life rafts from the water which is why we began hands on training classes 6 years ago. One section of our training takes place in a heated indoor pool with clear calm water. Yet the crippling effect of mild hypothermia, despite layered clothing and lifejackets, surprises all our participants. They find their movements slowed, their breath change and everything seems difficult. We have to pull participants out of the water at the end of the class.  They feel the effects of what we teach them, conduction in water is 25% greater than in the air. Once our participants are warmed up and recovered, they all want to know how to improve their own crew overboard gear now that they have the training.

Equipment for crew overboard or loss of vessel in coastal water must be pragmatic. It must be lightweight and small, it must be intuitive to use, it must be easily accessible, it must have some type of signaling device, and every crewmember onboard must understand its application and why it is used. A  rail mounted, quick deployed MOM 8 fits this criteria quite well and gives the victim the ability to climb back onboard or utilize the lifting straps should crew need to be pulled out of the water. Having the right tools will get crew to stay afloat, stay warm, stay still and stay together, now it’s just up to a vessel owner to have the training to keep the crew calm.

For information on LRSE crew training or any of the Switlik Man Overboard Modules visit:  LRSE.com or Switlik.com/marine/manoverboard

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