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Lessons Learnt: Could you save yourself?

by Maritime Safety Victoria 17 Jan 2019 10:57 UTC
Victorian boater David has shared his story of experiencing cold shock © Maritime Safety Victoria

This month's Lessons Learnt feature focusses on the risk of falling overboard - as part of our 'Prepare to survive: Know the five' campaign message, 'Practise getting back on'.

Victorian boater David has shared his story of experiencing cold shock as part of the campaign.

He jumped into the water to help release a rope in the propeller of a yacht he was sailing on. Despite volunteering, "The shock was something I had not expected," said David. "In summertime, we think of warm weather - but the water is still very cold.

"I stopped breathing. My ability to think clearly disappeared. I couldn't coordinate my muscles, and it was the crew members who had to haul me back on board again. It's much harder to get a person back onboard the boat than what can be imagined."

Practise getting back on

Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) and Life Saving Victoria (LSV) are challenging boaters and paddlers to practise getting back on their boats and kayaks this boating season.

One of the greatest risks for boaters and paddlers is unexpectedly entering Victorian waters, which remain cool even over summer, and not being able to get back on board.

Maritime Safety Director Rachel Gualano said clambering back onto a boat in soaking wet clothing could be much harder than people expected.

"Getting back on board involves a certain level of fitness and strength, especially when you are dealing with factors such as cold shock and conditions on the day.

"It is so important to practise, and in realistic conditions. You should never assume that because you could do it in calm, shallow water, or because you did it a few years ago, that you will always be able to do it."

Boaters should practise getting back on board at least once a year, while it is recommended paddlers practise more frequently.

Boaters should always use a kill switch so that the engine will cut out if they fall overboard. They should also invest in an appropriate ladder that extends into the water.

Paddlers should learn to use a paddle float and stirrup and consider taking professional instruction.

Prepare to survive: Know the five

  • Know the weather
  • Practise getting back on
  • Carry a distress beacon
  • Lock in a buddy plan
  • Wear a lifejacket.

Visit the campaign site: msv.vic.gov.au/prepare

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