Boating can give you a chance to feel the wind in your hair and enjoy the sunshine, while providing an opportunity to cool off, too. But even if you take safety precautions, sometimes the unexpected can still happen.
Would you know how to respond if someone went overboard?
Falling off a boat can be dangerous — so it’s a good idea to learn what to do if you ever find a boat passenger overboard.
The moment a passenger goes overboard, alert the rest of your passengers by shouting, “Man overboard!” so they are aware of the situation and can help keep visual contact with the victim, suggests The Boat Owners Association of The United States. Also, press the “man overboard” button on a GPS, if it’s available.
Here are some additional steps from the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water:
A key point in proper rescue, says the BoatU.S. Foundation, is avoiding having anyone else jump in the water for rescue. If a second person ends up in the water, that’s one more person who will need to be towed back into the boat. If the person in the water is injured and someone has to jump in to help, the Foundation advises that the rescuer wears a life jacket and is attached to a lifeline.
If, at any point, the situation seems life-threatening, The Boat Owners Association of The United States says to announce “mayday” three times on a marine VHF radio’s Channel 16. Next, state “man overboard” and provide your location and descriptions of the boat and the victim three times. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry — the association says to simply cancel the call for help if the victim is returned safely to the boat.
According to Yachting Magazine, as soon as the passenger hits the water, he should do whatever he can to make himself visible. This includes splashing around, pulling a colorful hood over his head (if he’s wearing one), and whistling toward the boat.
Additional tips from Yachting Magazine include:
Of course, it’s best if no one goes overboard in the first place. To help keep everyone on board, consider these tips from the BoatU.S. Foundation:
Also prep your passengers before leaving the dock by showing them where life jackets, recovery gear and flotation devices are and how to use them, suggests The Boat Owners Association of The United States.
Whether you are the captain or a passenger, make sure you are always aware of the potential risk of falling off the boat. If someone does go overboard, remember these tips to help ensure a successful rescue.