CHAPTER 4: Emergency Preparedness
Capsizing and Falls Overboard: Response
If you’re operating a boat and a passenger falls overboard, here’s what to do:
Step 1: Immediately slow down and stop the boat.
Step 2: Quickly throw something buoyant, like a life buoy or a lifejacket, to the person overboard. This will help them stay afloat and mark their location in the water if they go under.
Step 3: Assign someone in your boat to keep the overboard person in sight at all times. Have them continually point to the person’s location in the water.
Step 4: Carefully position the boat close enough to make contact with the overboard person. Keep them on the operator side of the boat.
Step 5: Throw a buoyant heaving line, or a life buoy attached to your boat, to the person overboard.
Step 6: Pull the overboard person to your boat and get them back on board using the boat’s boarding ladder. If your boat doesn’t have a ladder, you can drape a heavy rope or chain across the stern to use as a makeshift step.
It’s important to consider that in most instances, the overboard person will climb back into the boat from the stern. To avoid a second emergency, turn off your engine.