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Emergency situations

Man overboard

Man overboard

  • Keep your clothes on;
  • To keep as much of the body out of the water as possible, climb onto the pleasure craft or onto a floating object if there is one nearby;
  • Huddle with other people if you are two or more;
  • If alone, adopt a heat escape lessening position (HELP) in order to maintain your vital organs at the highest temperature possible (maintain body heat);
  • If you are in a group, take a head count to make sure that nobody is missing.

Capsizing or Running Aground Emergencies

  • Determine whether passengers and the vessel are in danger;
  • Ensure that everyone puts on a personal flotation;
  • Keep as close to the boat as possible. Try to climb on it. (A capsized boat is easier to see than a person in the water)
  • Do a head count of those who were on board;
  • Use or display the signals to show distress and need of assistance.

If your boat capsizes and you are more than 100m from shore, don’t try to swim to shore!

Waves can be a major factor in capsizing, especially if they are unexpected. Anticipate all waves and aim the bow into them. On approaching waves you should reduce your speed and approach the wave at a 45 degree angle allowing the boat to ease up and over the wave rather than smashing head on. Never travell parallel to the wave as you risk capsizing the craft.

Engine broken down and drifting

If your engine dies and you start drifting toward rocky shore... would you know what to do? Here’s the best course of action:

  1. Alter the speed of the craft;
  2. Anchor the craft;
  3. Investigate the problem;
  4. Correct the problem if possible; or
  5. Use or exhibit signals to show distress and need of help.

The operator should service and maintain the pleasure craft and its equipment on a regular basis to make sure that they work properly at all times, thus reducing the probability of breakdowns.  

Recovering a person  

recovering a person in the water

As soon as someone notices that a person has fallen overboard, that person must:

  • sound the alarm and immediately becomes the look-out, which means, to keep constant sight of the person who has fallen overboard;
  • another person will throw something buoyant with a buoyant heaving line; 
  • the pleasure craft operator must close-in on  the person who has fallen overboard, while at the same time, slowing down;
  • the operator will approach the person on the wind-ward side;
  • the operator will shut down the motors as soon as the person has grasped the line;
  • then recover the person overboard with a reboarding device or a lifting harness.

To ensure the safety of the pleasure craft’s passengers, it is important to inform each passenger of where the safety equipment is stored onboard, each one’s task during an emergency and the movement of the pleasure craft.  Furthermore, it is important to practice the safety procedures, so that the passengers may become familiar with them. In the case of a real emergency their chances of survival will increase dramatically.

The boat springs a leak

First, find the source of leak in the hull or of the flooding. Is there a breach in the hull such as in the water cooling system? Is an underwater device such as the engine’s water cooling system defective? Is the rear bailer of the pleasure craft properly closed? Once you have discovered where the water is entering the vessel, stop the leak or the source of flooding if possible.

If there is a breach in the hull below the waterline, use any type of plug (a piece of wood cloth) in order to close the hole. If it is a crack caused by hitting or rubbing up against rock, you can use an epoxy that hardens ou catalyses underwater. If the hole is on the water line, you must heel (incline the boat) the pleasure craft in order to get the crack out of the water. When the water leak has been sealed, bail the accumulated water from the hold or other compartments of the pleasure craft by using hand-held bailers, manual pumps or bilge pumps. Use or show distress signals to signal that you are in need of assistance. If necessary, use channel 16 with a «MAY DAY» signal and/our use pyrotechnic signals. The pleasure craft operator must always have on board a hull repair kit and tools. A temporary repair will ensure sufficient time in order to get back to shore and; and thus, stop any excess flooding.

Surviving in cold water

Isothermal clothing

If you end up in the water, do everything you can to conserve energy and body heat. Swim only if you can join others or reach a safe haven. Do not swim to keep warm. Extend your survival time by: 

  • wearing a Canadian-approved lifejacket or PFD. You will lose energy which is vital to survival,trying to keep your head out of the water if you are not wearing one;
  • climbing onto a nearby floating object to get as much of your body out of or above the water as possible;
  • if possible, adopt a heat escape lessening position (H.E.L.P.): cross your arms tightly against your chest and draw your knees up close to them;
  • huddle with others and make sure the sides of everyone’s chests are close together, with arms around mid to lower back, and legs intertwined;
  • protect yourself by wearing a lifejacket or PFD, multiple light layers of dry clothing and a water or wind-proof outer layer.

Other equipments that come in a variety of styles and names, and provide additional protection from hypothermia include:

  • floater or survival suits: a full nose-to-toes PFD;
  • anti-exposure worksuits: a PFD with a thermal protection rating;
  • dry suits: to be used with a floatation device and a thermal liner;
  • wet suits: to be used with a floatation device, traps and heats water against the body ;
  • immersion suits: to be used in extreme conditions when abandoning a vessel (usually for off-shore use).

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