Emergency Procedures Every Yacht Crew Member Should Know

The sea can be a harsh and unpredictable environment, and safety should always be the primary concern for every yacht crew member. It is important to have a good understanding of the procedures to follow during emergencies. Here are some key emergency procedures that everyone onboard should know:

1. Man Overboard
One of the most critical emergencies at sea is a person falling overboard. Here is the standard procedure:

Shout ‘Man Overboard’ to alert the rest of the crew.
Throw a lifebuoy or anything that floats towards the person in the water.
Keep the person in sight at all times. Assign someone to point towards the person constantly.
The captain or helmsman should immediately initiate the Man Overboard maneuver to circle back.
2. Fire Onboard
Fire can spread rapidly on a yacht, and knowing how to respond is vital:

Raise the alarm and inform the captain.
If it’s a small fire and safe to do so, use a fire extinguisher to put it out, aiming at the base of the flames.
Close all doors and hatches to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading.
Prepare the life rafts and lifejackets in case an evacuation is required.
3. Abandon Ship
In the unlikely event that you have to abandon the yacht, it’s essential to know the procedure:

When the order is given, put on a lifejacket and thermal protection if available.
Grab the emergency bag (also known as a ‘grab bag’) that should contain survival equipment.
Help launch the life rafts and help others onboard.
Once in the life raft, do a headcount and use flares or emergency beacons to signal for help.
4. Medical Emergencies
From minor injuries to severe health problems, prompt and proper medical response can save lives:

For minor injuries, administer first aid using the onboard first aid kit.
In severe cases, use the radio to seek medical advice from a doctor on shore or request an emergency medical evacuation.
If the injured person needs to be evacuated, prepare them for transfer and assist the rescue team.
5. Taking on Water
If the yacht is taking on water, it’s crucial to act quickly:

Identify the source of the water ingress and attempt to seal it if possible.
Use the bilge pumps to remove water from the boat.
If the water cannot be controlled, prepare to abandon ship.
Remember, the key to handling any emergency situation is training, preparation, and remaining calm. Regularly review and practice these procedures so that they become second nature. Always ensure that safety equipment is up-to-date and easily accessible, and that all crew members know how to use it. A well-prepared crew can mean the difference between a close call and a tragedy.

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