The larger a vessel is, the safer people assume it will be out on the open water. Smaller boats can easily end up overwhelmed by waves, especially during windy weather. However, a boat of any size could still end up struggling and possibly even capsizing depending on the weather and the conditions on the water.
A capsized vessel is one of the worst possible scenarios when out boating, and people often end up injured or even dying when a boat overturns in the water. What are the dos and don’t that someone should take when a vessel capsizes?
What someone should do
The most important things that people can do to survive a vessel capsizing occurs before the vessel encounters danger. Consistently wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) while on board is crucial, as people won’t have a chance to grab them and put them on when the vessel goes down. After the boat capsizes, whenever possible, send an emergency transmission. Particularly when the vessel capsizes far from shore, communicating with others can help ensure that professionals or even the Coast Guard will respond. Similarly, if someone has a whistle or the vessel has a bell, making noise to notify others of the issue is a smart move.
It’s also important to keep everyone together. Make sure that everyone is accounted for and to keep them close together until help arrives. If the vessel floats, having everyone remain close to it can help take some of the strain off of staying afloat and close to each other. If the boat is small enough and the people are strong enough, it may be possible to move the vessel to the shore. Otherwise, waiting near it for first responders is usually the best bet.
What someone shouldn’t do
There are many risks during a capsizing incident. Someone should not get too close to a vessel that appears about to fully sink, especially if they are a weak swimmer or do not have a flotation device. Those far from shore should not attempt to swim back or leave the group. When helping other people who were on the boat, people may need to avoid getting too close to someone panicking unless everyone has a PDF. One individual could pull someone else down in their panic. Finally, people should avoid panicking by controlling their emotions. Staying calm until help arrives can improve someone’s overall safety and ability to manage the situation.
Knowing what steps to take when a vessel capsizes can make all the difference for the people present when that emergency occurs.