Essential Safety Equipment
Only two pieces of equipment are essential for preventing most sailing emergencies – but only some of you are using them BEFORE an emergency. They should be obvious:
Your PFD. Your Personal Flotation Device, or PFD is the basic “life saver” on any boat. Any number things can happen that result in ending up in the water; and it’s not just the neophyte unaccustomed to vagaries of wind, tide and weather that can get into trouble.
83% of sailing fatalities result from drowning, and 88% of boaters who drown weren’t wearing their PFD. The complaints that they are “too cumbersome” or “they make me look like a land lubber” makes no sense; especially with the lightweight, inflatable PFDs now available. Like the seat belt in your automobile, there’s no excuse not to use one.
Personal handheld HF radios. Accidents will happen anytime and anywhere. Sailors have died in calm conditions, and often even in port, simply because they ended up in the water and were unable to call for help. A PFD will keep you afloat, but it won’t help you fight hypothermia. Small submersible VHF radios, preferably a DSC GPS submersible handheld FVH carried on the belt can call someone on shore who can call for help.
If your boat’s VHF radio is DSC-capable, make sure it’s connected it to the GPS of your plotter for greater safety in an emergency. Best of all, the gear is not that expensive compared to other boating equipment. Also filing a float plan will decrease your odds of not being one of the 700 boating fatality statistics that occur every year.
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