Safety

Getting people to wear lifejackets while on the water has always been a tough goal. Over the years we have seen all kinds of campaigns from boring government brochures to funny spoofs of old cop shows. Now things have taken a bit of darker turn with the new drowning simulator called, Sorte En Mer. You need to try it but be prepared, it's pretty intense. The simulator starts off with a video of you and a friend out sailing on a calm day then quickly turns into a disaster when you are knocked overboard and left watching your friend sail off into the horizon unable to control the sailboat. To keep your head above water you need to scroll your mouse wheel for as long as you can. Are you able to stay afloat long enough until your buddy comes back? I couldn't. Shock campaigns like this have been around for a long time and I’m sure you’ve seen posters with splashy photos of traffic accidents telling you to slow down, or reminders that you love your dog so don’t kill it by leaving it in a car on a hot day. For a while now researchers have been looking into shock campaigns to see how effective they are. While there is an emotional reaction to seeing bloody car wreck photos, a study back in 2008 in the Netherlands showed that they had the opposite effect. In the study, some male subjects who saw the commercials judged driving fast to be less dangerous or trivialized the message that driving fast is dangerous. I remember as a teenager our local high school used to arrange for a local wrecker to come and drop off a crashed up car to remind students not to drink and drive. Who knows how many students got the message but all I know is that a large group of us used to stand trying to figure out how to get in the crushed car so we could get photos of ourselves. Another interesting study out of Belgium showed that campaigns based on fear tended have a…
From the YouTube description: Maritime New Zealand's (MNZ's) new advertising campaign harks back to the glory days of 1980s cop shows to show that, like bulletproof vests, lifejackets don't save people's lives unless they're worn. Police officers Brandon Reynolds & Joe Lyons head to the docks for a bust. Things don't go as planned... The campaign draws on MNZ's latest research, which shows that men aged 40 plus are the least likely to zip up on the water. Black humour and '80s TV show nostalgia are used to deliver the deadly message that having a lifejacket on board won't save boaties or their mates if things go wrong. Being close to your lifejacket is like being close to your bulletproof vest -- it's just not close enough. People think if they have an accident, they'll have time to put their lifejacket on, but boating tragedies tell a different story.... For more information about summer boating safety, visit maritimenz.govt.nz/lifejackets And for good measure here is the Starsky and Hutch opening that made me want to be a cop so bad…
As you may or may not know, Transport Canada puts stand-up paddleboards (SUP) in the same classification as canoes and kayaks so they are technically required to carry the same gear which includes PFD’s, heaving line, etc. You can see the full list here. Of course, being safe is a good thing but much of the required gear just isn’t practical in SUP and could even be potentially dangerous in surf (eg. PFD’s). With that in mind, a grassroots movement started last year to get Transport Canada and in particular, Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) to recognize the use of board leashes in place of a PFD. In response, Transport Canada recently released a statement clarifying their policy on required safety gear and it seems to be a good compromise. Transport Canada decided to follow the lead of the US Coast Guard and said that as long as you are paddling within the surf zone, you are not required to carry all the gear which also includes a PFD. That being said, they did go on to say that if you are using your SUP for navigation (group crossing or solo outing) then the regular rules are in place. The thing to keep in mind with the change is that if you decide to paddle around the headland back to the parking lot then you are no longer surfing and thus in line for a ticket if caught without all the required safety gear. Stories of this type of enforcement have been trickling out of popular surf breaks in California over the last year. ; On the surface the clarification from Transport Canada seems to be a good compromise as it solves the real concern about putting paddlers surfing in danger due to a PFD (They could be in greater danger as a PFD doesn’t allow them to duck dive under an incoming wave when swimming). I know that the compromise won’t make some people in the SUP community totally happy, but here is the problem from Transport Canada’s perspective as I see it. They have a hard enough time…
GCaptain had a great article yesterday called, Emergencies at Sea – Practicing What Can’t be Practiced. The takeaway message from the article is that it’s critically important not to forget the little details of any rescue and practice them as well. This also includes inspection of all emergency gear. A good example they provide is to actually pull the man overboard life ring from the wall and toss it overboard. Apparently the rings are difficult to get off the wall as they are designed not to get lost in the daily business of the ship and it takes more time then people think. This got me thinking about rescue practice for canoes or kayaks. As paddlers we tend to focus on the primary element of the rescue which is getting yourself or your partner back in the boat. With time we get that dialled down but as you know there is a whole lot more little details that often get overlooked. Here are a couple of thoughts and ideas to think about the next time you get out practising rescues: Try to calling for help using your VHF radio or waterproofed cell phone while floating in the water in the actual conditions you are likely to swim in. If you have to pull gear from your boat, don’t let water get in. If you had to call for help at any point throughout your day paddle, could you be able to describe verbally your location to authorities over the radio with relative accuracy? Pull out your flares and do a full inspection. Are the instructions still legible? Are they expired and need replacing? Fire off an expired flare. Ever done it from the water? In a real emergency, can you reach them from your canoe/kayak while floating in the water? Update: Sheilap reminded me that it's illegal to do. See the comments below. Practice rescuing your partner while they are fake-injured. Common injuries include sea sickness (no balance), shoulder injuries or weak arms. How did your technique change? A dislocated shoulder can easily be faked by shoving your arm in your PFD.…
Hey, we have a guest post! I recently asked Vanessa Mackay to see if she could put together a safety article specifically aimed at a group of readers we haven’t focused on for some time, power boaters and sailors. For novice boaters, passing the Canada boating exam is just a first step. There’s still much to learn, and like most real-world education, a lot of it will come the hard way: through hands-on experience. That type of “on-the-job” training, however, isn’t always good enough. So let’s consider some survival scenarios, such as capsizing and sinking, so that if you ever end up in a worst-case scenario while at sea, you’ll know what to do. Assessment and the Distress Call As soon as you realize that you’re in an emergency; breathe and assess the situation methodically. The first thing to determine is whether you require external help. Determine that as fast as possible, and error on the side of caution. It’s better to send out a distress call that results in inconvenience and a little humiliation rather than not send one out and pay a more significant cost. When making a distress call, the VHF radio is usually the best option, but flares, waving arms and even mirrors can be appropriate in certain situations where potential rescuers are nearby. Next, focus on passengers and ensure their safety however possible. Typically, this involves making sure everyone has a lifejacket on. Locate the lifejackets, start with the children and then help one person after the next don the jacket properly. When that’s accomplished, determine the safest part of the boat, or a safe area of the water, and move people to that area. If you’re still on the boat at this point, examine your surroundings for possible ways to alleviate the situation while awaiting help. If You’ve Capsized... The biggest mistake most capsized boaters make is that they leave the boat, attempting to swim to rescue. Understand that statistically chances for survival drop significantly as soon as the boaters leave the boat. The reason for this is that a capsized boat is easier…
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