One of the things that make boating such an appealing hobby is how safe it is. For one, the open ocean is much less congested than any road. That gives boaters and sailors more space to travel securely across their route than travelers on land. For another, many modern sailboats and motorboats are now built with top-of-the-line safety features. This is definitely something that boating authority Europa Yachts Philippines, a distributor of Europe’s finest watercrafts, can attest to.
But boat safety has to be constantly at the top of the list of priorities of those who are in charge of each trip, namely the boat owners and the boat crew. If something happens while the boat is offshore, these are the people that passengers will turn to. To that end, boat owners and crew members must frequently review their knowledge of boat safety. That will help them improve the quality and timeliness of their response to any emergencies, from fire to injury to a “man overboard” situation.
If you’re a Filipino boat owner or part of a crew, here’s a checklist of important boat safety-related questions you can refer to. You can review these well before your next boat trip, and you can also discuss them during your 3- to 10-minute pre-departure briefing.
Do You Know What You Should Do in the Most Extreme Situations?
The top three most extreme situations that you can encounter are man overboard (MOB), collision with a land mass or another vehicle, and engine failure. The quickest ways to respond to these are the following:
- In a MOB situation, you should always have your eyes on the person who’s fallen off the boat. Make sure that another person is pointing and signaling to their location as a crew member swims out to save them. This shouldn’t stop until the person has two feet back on the boat.
- In the event of collision, go directly to the boat’s very high frequency (VHF) radio and make a call for help. Assess any damage that may have been made to your boat’s hull or equipment. Check if everyone on your boat is all right, and do the same for the other vessel involved if it is safe to do so.
- In the case of engine failure, try to diagnose the problem first. See if it comes from the boat’s fuel line, fuel tank, ignition system, or battery. Call marine rescue, and resolve to take action next time, such as to repair any faulty parts in the engine.
Take into consideration that these are special situations that don’t happen very often. Perhaps it’s a good thing to tell your passengers so that they are not unduly stressed or paranoid about these events happening. In any case, with the tips above, you are better prepared to deal with these extreme situations.
Who Knows How to Administer First Aid?
Seafarers are required to undergo a basic safety training program called Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Part of the program is elementary first aid. Thus, there’s a big chance that professionally trained crew members on the boat are already well-versed in basic first aid techniques. But it’s also a good idea for boat owners to undergo first aid training themselves. That way, there’s a higher number of ready first responders on the boat.
Basic first aid techniques that boat owners and crew should either learn or brush up on are:
- How to treat cuts and bruises
- What medicines to administer in case of motion sickness or seasickness
- How to deal with fractures caused by slips or falls
- How to respond to allergies
- How to properly administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Once again, if more people on the boat know how to administer first aid, then it’ll be easier to help passengers when they need it.
Are All Boat Passengers Accounted For?
Speaking of passengers, boat owners and boat crew should always have a tally of who’s going on the trip. Answer the following questions in order for you to complete your tally of passengers:
- How many passengers will there be on the trip?
- How many of the passengers are children? How many are elderly?
- Do any of the passengers have an outstanding medical condition?
- Is there anyone on the boat who doesn’t know how to swim?
The answers will help you determine a headcount for the trip. They will also pinpoint which passengers will be in need of additional assistance, and how exactly you can help them.
Does Everyone on the Boat Have Their Own Life Jacket?
Everyone on the boat should also have their own designated life jacket. Things that boat owners and boat crew should consider about lifejackets are:
- The available sizes of lifejacket, as there should be both adult-sized lifejackets and smaller lifejackets for children.
- The location of the lifejackets, as these should be in plain sight and within reach.
- Whether everyone on the boat knows how to put on their own life jacket, and whether it is easy for them to do so.
Along with lifejackets, all passengers should be aware of the life rafts and grab bags on the boat. On the rare occasion that you will have to abandon ship, you will at least be ready to do so.
Is the Marine VHF Radio Working?
Every boat has its own dedicated marine VHF radio. This is what you’ll use to reach important channels like Channel 16 (the international distress frequency), the nearest yacht clubs, and the nearest coast guards.
The VHF shouldn’t be treated like a toy, and there are steep fines if someone is caught doing so. But everyone should know what the VHF’s purpose is and how they can use it in an emergency situation.
Does the Boat Have a Freshly Stocked Medical Kit?
Every boat needs its own fully stocked medical kit, housed in a water-resistant bag or receptacle. Among the items that should be found in your own marine medical kit are the following:
- Dressing pads
- Burn ointment or cream
- Ointment for animal stings and bites
- Anti-nausea medications
- Anti-diarrheal medicines
- Antiseptic solutions
- Cotton buds
- Rubbing alcohol
- Clean water
- Cold packs
- Safety pins
- Non-allergenic gloves
- A water-resistant flashlight
These are, of course, in addition to specific medications for passengers who have outstanding conditions, like asthma, diabetes, or hypertension. Make sure that all of these are on the boat before you leave, and keep track whenever someone consumes medicine or uses medical supplies.
Does Everyone Know How to Respond to Fires?
Last but not least, boat owners and boat crew should be in charge of upholding fire safety. Fire may be the last thing on everyone’s minds while they’re out on the ocean. But the fact is, it’s actually easy to start a fire on the boat. These usually happen due to improper handling of cooking devices in the galley. Everyone should remember the proper order of dealing with a gas or electrical fire on the boat, which is:
- First, turn off the source of fuel for the fire.
- Second, smother the fire with a fire extinguisher.
- Third, leave the burning device alone to cool off.
The boat’s fire extinguishers should also be on display and accessible at all times. If these are put away in storage, you may lose valuable time trying to find them while the fire burns on. Bring them out and place them in strategic corners of your boat so that fire response can be swift.
Conclusion: Take the Lead in Boat Safety
The most enjoyable kind of boating trip is the one where everyone is safe, accounted for, and prepared to assist each other. Boat owners and crewmen are the ones who have the most responsibility to passengers, and therefore they should take the lead.
But passengers, young and old alike, can also be proactive in watching out for their safety. Invite them to ask questions during the briefing, impart some of the safety tips you’ve learned above, and encourage them to look out for one another. When everyone takes on a role in boat safety, it’s sure to be smooth sailing!