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Dealing with an Accident

Crew Overboard

Another type of accident that can occur on the water is having someone fall overboard. Crew-overboard (COB) victims face a number of dangers, including panic, injury during the fall and hypothermia. For those aboard the boat, quick thinking and coordinated action are essential to an effective rescue.

Control of the situation is most likely to be maintained by those who have prepared themselves with regular drills.

However, not many people ever consider how to handle this situation, let alone actually practice COB procedures with the crew. Before you even leave the dock there are several things you can do to increase the chances of you or your crew should someone fall overboard even without practicing COB procedures.

Have lifejackets equipped with whistles and waterproof flashlights.
For less than ten dollars you can increase someone's chances of quick pick up (especially at night). Better yet, wear your life jacket! In cold or heavy weather and at night, you are much better off wearing your life jacket.

Practice throwing a life ring or cushion.
They are quite a bit harder to throw than you might think! You can easily practice on your dock to check your range and accuracy-you will probably be very surprised by the results.

Show everyone where life saving gear is located, and how to use it.
Knowing how to use equipment will save valuable time when it counts.

While on the water your first priority is to not panic. The best way to do that is by practicing your COB procedure regularly. Pick a rescue technique such as the "quick-stop" or "figure eight" (described in great detail in many seamanship books). Acting on instinct and acting immediately will save time and reduce panic for you and your crew.