Going overboard is a frightening experience because it happens so quickly but when you are in that situation, there are a couple of things you can do to help with your survival.
Before a man overboard situation
Anytime you are out on the water, you should always wear a personal flotation device. Set a plan for your boat, Discuss and determine with your crew the roles of the man overboard rescue and set the expectations. Stress the necessity that someone keep an eye on the victim at all times and that the rest of the crew then responds by:
- Getting additional flotation to the victim.
- Radioing in a mayday
- Turning the boat around
- Finding the victim and approaching carefully, at a controlled speed
- Tossing a line for the victim and hoisting them aboard
Once you’re back in the water, regularly practice a man overboard drill so that all on-board are familiar with the correct process. Show crew where your man overboard recovery equipment is located and demonstrate how to use it. Every situation will be unique but practicing will create a routine and mitigate some of the unknown.
During a man overboard situation
If you ever find yourself in a man overboard situation, the most important thing to do is to keep calm. Focus your energy on staying afloat and trying to be seen. If you aren’t wearing a PFD, you’ll need to either float or tread water. Trading water requires more energy so this should only be utilized if you think you’ll be rescued soon.
If you aren’t sure of when a rescue will happen, float to conserve your energy. If the water is cold, pull your knees to your chest to retain heat.
When you are a man overboard victim, your only job is to stay alive and keep your head above water. If you and your crew regularly practice man overboard situations, trust in the fact that rescue is on the way.
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