Saftey at sea 

Look after youKeeping warm and dry is important. Once you start to get cold your ability to think and function properly will deteriorate.

Wear clothes made from man-made fabrics rather than cotton which soaks up body moisture and makes you cold. Always take spare clothing with you so you can add layers if necessary as well as a waterproof jacket and trousers, and a hat.

Conversely in hot weather remember your sun cream and hat and keep yourself hydrated.

Alcohol and boating don’t mix

Alcohol will impair your coordination and your ability to think clearly, particularly in an emergency situation. It influences your behaviour and affects your judgement.

The RYA does not condone the drinking of alcohol whilst in charge of a vessel and encourages all boaters to act responsibly in this regard.

Care should also be taken when at anchor, transferring to and from a tender or when walking to and from a boat along a pontoon.

Lifejacket or buoyancy aid

Make sure you and your crew have the right personal safety equipment, that they are well maintained and fitted correctly. More information on lifejackets and buoyancy aids.

Wear your kill cord

If you are on an open powerboat or RIB make sure you wear the kill cord. If your boat is not fitted with one then get one fitted. The kill cord should be attached around your leg. Always check your kill cord works before you go out on the water. Watch how to attach a kill cord correctly and read more about kill cords and powerboating safety.

Carbon Monoxide

Often dubbed the ‘Silent Killer’, Carbon Monoxide can kill quickly if inhaled in high concentrations. Check your on-board appliances are safe. If you don’t have a CO alarm, install one and test it regularly. More information on carbon monoxide.


If a fire does occur, it is imperative that you have sufficient firefighting equipment to hand and that you know how to use it, if the fire is to be extinguished quickly and effectively. Read more about fire fighting equipment.

First aid

It’s a good idea to have two well-stocked first aid kits on-board; one for day-to-day use and one for incidents. Know how to use it and keep the contents up to date. More information on first aid.

Cold water shock can kill

Cold water shock occurs well before the effects of hypothermia and so it is far deadlier. It can cause a number of instant and powerful involuntary respiratory reflexes that can lead to death in minutes. It can happen at any time of the year; it only takes a water temperature of 15°C and below. Read more about cold water shock.

Safety briefing for your crew

A skipper should ensure that everyone on board knows where the safety equipment is stowed and how to use it. Talk them through your plan as well as your contingency plans should something go wrong. Other aspects are: check that they know how to start the engine, how to send a Mayday and to make them aware of any on board hazards.

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