How Can You Reduce Risk of Falling Overboard on Small Boats?

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With so many boats on the water, water vessel fatalities are quite common these days. Of these, falling overboard is considered the most dangerous boat fatality. In this case, you can even break your bones as falling on the water feels exactly like falling on the ground from a height.

But there are ways to reduce this risk of falling overboard, especially if you are traveling on small boats. You should maintain your balance all the time and, if possible, avoid standing on a moving boat. Always put your hand on the railings of the boat.

How can one avoid falling overboard completely?


Whenever you are on the deck of your boat, you should wear life jackets. Even if you sit on the deck chairs, you should keep wearing the PFDs. This way, by any chance, if you fall on water, the air-filled PFDs will keep you afloat.

Weight of the boat

If you are a boat operator, you should not over-crowd the boat at any cost. This will reduce the chance of passengers falling overboard. Also, you should put more weight on the back of the boat. This method significantly reduces the chance of capsizing.

Moving boat

To avoid falling overboard, you should maintain a distance from the edge of the deck. The passengers on board should limit their movement and should avoid standing up. They should keep at least three contact points at a time with their legs and hands to prevent falling overboard.

Also, if you own a small boat, you should avoid entering rough waters. Even if you find yourself on turbulent water, you should maintain a slow pace and ask all the passengers to grab onto something.

What can happen to one if he or she falls overboard?

For god forbid, if you fall overboard, you will come across multiple physical injuries. Apart from this, cold shock is one of the big concerns for those who fall overboard. If they do not wear life jackets or if water reaches their lungs, they can drown in the water. These victims also can experience hypothermia. The cold water of rivers, lakes, and oceans makes them incapable of swimming.

What should the boat operators do if someone falls overboard?

If you see a passenger falling overboard, you should stop the boat engine immediately. You should not come too close to the drowning man. After that, toss a lifejacket or any floatation device towards the man on water. Now, you should pull the tow rope attached to the PFD of the drowning man. Apart from this, as a boat operator, you should also call emergency services using your VHF radio. You should also assign the crew members to help the man on the water come on board.

As a responsible boat owner, you should always keep the headcount of the passengers on board. During the sharp turns, you should warn them so that they can hold on to something. No matter what you do, always put your passengers’ safety first.