In a previous blog we looked at what should be on your safety kit check list ahead of a long distance cruise. However, having the right safety equipment on board is only half the battle – knowing how to use it is also crucial.
Have you ever used a a fire-extinguisher? Did you know you can get freeze-burn if you’re holding the extinguisher incorrectly?
That sealed first aid kit you’re carrying – do you know what is actually in it? If a crew member was critically ill, would you be confident which medicines to give them?
There is a huge amount to do to prepare your boat for sailing, whereas training helps you deal with situations that hopefully won’t ever happen – so it’s easy to de-prioritise.
You may have completed basic safety and first aid training as part of the RYA syllabus, but is this suitable for the situations you could face where you are going? If help was several days away – could you cope??
There are no recreational firefighting courses. Most leisure sailors have extinguishers on board but have never used one. Did you know most people struggle to pull the pin out to activate the extinguisher?
Have you seen how quickly a fire takes hold? You only have moments to tackle it – and that includes finding the extinguisher, wrestling it out from the holder, pulling the pin and taking aim. Sounds easy? It’s not. And if the first time you ever ‘practice’ is during an actual fire, you’ll only have time to react – not to experiment, so the chances of doing it in the best way are slim.
Vortec Marine offer a unique fire simulator experience which recreates an onboard fire, complete with distracting alarms beeping. A 1/2 day simulation experience includes learning about which extinguisher to use when and tackling a blazing fire. You’ll repeat the drill several times until you can calmly extinguish the fire in just seconds.
Unlike commercial fire fighting courses, you won’t have breathing apparatus, just protective overalls. There is an instructor on hand at all times and a safety shut-off valve, so it’s perfectly safe, but very realistic. Contact Vortec for more details or to book a place.
Most sailors have completed a basic first aid such as the 1-day RYA First Aid Course. This essential course teaches you how to stabilise a casualty until help arrives, but if you are planning a longer cruise or passage you might want to consider gaining more in-depth knowledge so you can handle the situation for longer as help may take some time to arrive.
A great option is the MCA Proficiency in Medical First Aid onboard Ship. This 4-day course covers dealing with fractures, breaks, soft-tissue injuries, internal bleeding, burns, head injuries as well as preventing and dealing with illness on board. There are no pre-requisites so anyone can book on and attend.
Once you have completed the MCA Medical First Aid course, you might want to also complete the MCA Medical Care onboard Ship course. This is a 5-day course and includes far more in-depth material on internal organs and systems including passing a catheter, giving injections and perform medical procedures with satellite guidance.
Not only could these advanced course save a life, it is really interesting and useful knowledge for both and off the boat.
The ISAF Offshore safety course helps sailors avoid life-threatening situations. For example considering weather forecasting and storm routing to avoid bad weather. You’ll learn tips for dealing with adverse weather, how to rig storm sails and the correct use of flares and other safety items. In addition you’ll gain an understanding of global search and rescue systems and search patterns.
The RYA Sea Survival course focuses more on prolonging your survival, especially focussing on the use of liferafts, so you know how to deploy it, and survive in it. Trying to clamber in to a life raft whilst wearing sodden clothing and an inflated life-jacket will quickly make you realise how hard this is. You’ll gain valuable tips on how to manoeuvre yourself and the raft, conserve energy and help each other.
All of these are skills that you’ll never want to use – but if you do find yourself in the middle of a situation, you’ll be able to confidently take steps to improve your situation without wasting time.