Practice marine safety

Wonderful summer time weather presents ideal opportunities for family fun and water activities including fishing and boating and wonderful conditions for scuba.

However, according to the Head of the Accident and Emergency Service at the Cayman Islands Hospital, Dr. Fiona Robertson important safety precautions are often overlooked by many persons, which can lead to fatal consequences.

‘While we want to encourage everyone to have a wonderful holiday and enjoy the beautiful waters of the Cayman Islands, safety must be paramount’ says Dr. Robertson. ‘Whether it’s in a sailboat, a powerboat, a personal watercraft or a canoe, becoming a “safe boater” is a smart decision that can assure your family’s enjoyment of the water’ she continued in a GIS press release.

You can’t predict when an accident might happen, but you can take steps that will help prevent a good time from becoming a tragedy. One of the basic and essential, but often neglected items for the vast majority of personal watercraft operators is a life jacket.

It is estimated that 85 percent of boaters who drowned were not wearing a life jacket. According to experts, while most boaters have life jackets aboard their boats, they don’t always wear them. Another problem is that many boaters are taking to the waters without sufficient instruction.

Here are some valuable and life saving safety tips you can use this holiday season:

Your boat should be equipped with a life preserver for every person on board.

Regardless of the size of your motorboat, carry a mouth, hand or power operated whistle or horn that can blast a 2-second audible sound that can be heard for at least one half mile.

If possible have a two-way fully charged marine radio or cell phone with you

Have a readily available fire extinguisher.

Follow the regulations on boat capacity.

Make sure that your distress signals work before leaving the dock.

Carry a fully stocked first aid kit.

If you own a canoe, kayak, or raft, you and your family should learn how to maneuver your vessel in shallow waters and practice mock emergency situations, e.g. knowing how to handle your boat before taking your vessel out in case you capsize, lose a paddle, etc.

Everyone should wear a life preserver; all of your belongings should be in waterproof bags and do not carry things that could get lost.

No alcohol for the driver and responsible alcohol consumption for other passengers

Know and confirm local weather conditions

Always remember to carry plenty of drinking water and be sure to wear sunscreen.

If an accident occurs, please contact 911 immediately for help and directions

For those who Scuba, please dive within recommended safety limits and your training level.

Make sure you’re in good physical condition to Scuba including adequate hydration, no colds, coughs or recent illnesses that could compromise your diving.

It’s highly recommend that you have and oxygen kit on the boat, that it is checked regularly and that you know how to use it.

Plan ahead for emergencies

Know your first aid for diving injuries

Discuss plans for emergencies with your buddies before diving.

Always dive with a buddy

If you are planning a private dive you should aim for the same safety standards as are practiced currently within our professional dive organizations.

Dr. Robertson emphasizes that in the event of an accident at sea, it is important for boat operators to choose a suitable place to dock when returning to shore with injured persons to facilitate easy access to the vessel and ensure immediate medical care to the injured.

Attempting a water rescue is an extremely difficult and dangerous task and often does take some time to coordinate to ensure the safety of all involved including the patient and the emergency response crew.