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The sun is out, the water is calm, and it’s another beautiful day for a boat trip. But, that’s when the unexpected happens; are you truly prepared? You’ve stored your Ditch Pack, you made sure that you had enough life vests for everyone in the boat. Last week you checked to make sure your Satellite Phone and Uniden VHF were fully charged, what else could there possibly be?
There is a real difference between being prepared and being properly PREPARED. There is not a fine line between panic and fear. When a quick storm comes up, and things get rocky, everyone has a little fear that sets in; panic is what happens when unprepared people must do something different from the norm. Panic is when everyone on-board starts running around in different directions, with no one is accomplishing anything, the last thing you want during an emergency situation.
What needs to be done to help subdue panic is quite simple, never leave the dock without having a quick safety briefing. I talk about all the items that are important in different situations and pull them out, so people know that the ACR EPIRB is bright lime green and the SAT Phone is the little orange gadget just to the left in the above storage on the helm. I also quickly explain how both items work.
Next, I move on to life vests and show where they all are and take one down and fit it on the new guy. Then I show the Ditch Pack and open it and point out the item categories and how it is laid out. Finally, the life raft and how to deploy it. For us, it is only deployed once it is in the water.
For the last portion of our safety brief. I assign every person on the boat a job and only one job should a situation arise:
This may seem like a lot of preparation every trip, but keeping people focused on a singular job helps to avoid that frantic reaction to an emergency. These briefings can easily be conducted in 5-10 minutes before departure. Fear is not a bad thing, I fear snakes. But I have learned enough to know what to do if I see a snake or bitten by one. I also try to always remember to take the opportunity during our trip to ask each person what they are doing in an emergency and make sure they remember their specific job and responsibility. I may do these 2 or 3 times during our trip. It helps set a level of comfort with everyone.
So, are you prepared or really PREPARED? Are you serious about safety? Take a few minutes the next time you are heading out for an adventure on the water, and ensure everyone else PREPARED should a situation arise.