From 2015 to 2016, the Coast Guard reported an 11.3% rise in fatalities for registered recreational vessels. This is an addition to an already increased rate from 2015 to 2016. Of those fatalities, when cause of death was known, 80% of the victims drowned.
Here at SWITLIK, we take boating seriously here, while still having fun and we want the same for you. Our biggest tip for you this spring is to be prepared for emergencies: accidents happen quickly, often with little or no warning. Take the time to familiarize your crew and guests with basic emergency procedures and equipment and show them how to contact authorities for help via marine radio or cell phone.
It pays to be prepared, and that starts with having the right equipment on board.As the Coast Guard reported, most fatalities were due to drowning. Therefore, it is important to have a floating throwable device with at least 100 feet of floating line attached in a means that can be easily tethered to the boat. This device should also have lifting capabilities and strength to haul an injured victim back over the gunnel.
Even in the summer, there is a risk of hypothermia even with water temperatures around 70 degrees! If immersed in 60 – 70-degree weather, the average time before exhaustion or unconsciousness is 2 – 7 hours (dependent on individual differences) with a survival time of up to 40 hours. A quick recovery out of the water as well as the option of having a set of dry clothes to change into will help to prevent any injury from exposure to cold water. In case of injury from falling in, it is imperative to have a first aid kit on board.
Yes, a raft is additional expense and the likelihood of needing it is low but the consequence of not having one, when you need it is catastrophic. A life raft is designed to keep everyone together and out of the water, providing protection from the elements and creating a larger visual while awaiting rescue. It is the single most important safety equipment, that you never hope to use.
Abandoning ship is always your last resort. While your boat is still floating, it will be easier for rescuers to find you. The length of time to wait with your ship is again, dependent on your situation. You’ll want to be able to communicate with the appropriate resources and be prepared to ditch, grabbing your ditch kit and other supplies, like an EPIRB and additional flares that will become necessary in your raft.
As fun as boating can be, when problems arise on the water, things can get really bad, really fast. That’s why it’s important to be prepared by having appropriate safety gear on your boat. And remember, think safety, think SWITLIK.