Types of emergencies

Accidents happen every day on the water, whether you experience engine trouble, a man goes overboard, or a storm has left your boat incapacitated. In these worst-case scenarios, the ability to summon help quickly can be the difference between life and death. 

Some emergencies are obvious whilst others might be harder to identify for new skippers. Some of the more common emergencies boaters come across can be grouped into the following points – 

  • Fire – Smoke and/or flames may be visible. Obviously, heat & a burning odour will help you realise what’s going on.
  • Grounding – The vessel will be heard or felt contacting the shore, reef etc.
  • Person Overboard – A headcount may indicate a person is missing; distress cries may be heard from the person overboard or others who have witnessed the over boarding;
  • Capsize – The vessel will be in an inverted position.
  • Swamping – The vessel will sit lower in the water. Its motion will differ from its usual motion. Water may enter the vessel which may or may not be visible on the deck (depending on your vessel)
  • Engine Breakdown or malfunction – The operation of the engine will cease or differ from its usual operation.
  • Fouled Propeller – The propeller will cease turning and the vessels motor may stall. Debris may be visible at the propeller.
  • Anchor Dragging – The vessel will move laterally relative to the shoreline and/or other vessels.
  • Hypothermia – Persons affected by hypothermia will be cold and may appear confused with motions slowed. Speech may be slurred. The person may become unresponsive.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Persons affected by carbon monoxide poisoning may appear fatigued, confused, short on breath and unable to see or hear correctly, among other symptoms. 
  • Contaminated Fuel – The vessels motor may cease smooth operation, become irregular in its operation and/or splutter or stall. It may not be possible to restart the motor.

Over the next few lessons, we’ll go over these emergencies and what steps you need to take to respond appropriately.

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