Onboard Health and Safety Essentials

Life buoy

There’s nothing like heading out for a day on the water by yourself or in the company of friends and family. Sailing is a way to destress and get some well-needed fresh air.

Amongst all the laughter and enjoyment, it can be easy to forget health and safety essentials, especially if you frequent the waters and are confident with your sailing abilities. However, even the most experienced on a boat can get into an accident.

Below, we discuss the most vital health and safety elements you should never neglect when heading out on a sailing trip and provide a handy checklist for you to use each time you go out on the water.

Life Jackets & Lifebelts

You might think we’re stating the obvious, but these boating essentials are the first safety item you need to ensure everyone is wearing while onboard. Take the time to show everyone how to use them properly and make sure they fit well.

Once a jacket is in place, it shouldn’t move around or slide up. If it does, try making it a little tighter or using a smaller model. Use the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure a good fit. Your lifejacket and belt should keep your nose and mouth as far out of the water as possible.

Life Jackets

Use The Right Clothing

For a safe sailing trip, the right clothing is essential. You need shoes with a non-slip sole, especially for docking. Take care that the clothes you use don’t have tags or loops that could get caught on something in an accident or emergency.

Have A Plan

It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent years on the water or are heading out for your first sailing trip, you always need to plan ahead. Get your hands-on charts of the area you’re going to visit and plot your route before you leave.

Check the weather for that day to help you know what equipment you’ll need and understand local rules and regulations for sailing in the area you’ll be heading.

Use Common Sense & Sailing Know-How To Your Advantage

Common sense should be applied to everything you do in life, so sailing is no different. Before you head out on the boat, consider all the different scenarios that might occur and plan how you can eliminate or minimise any risks.

Keep checking the weather when you’re onboard and play it safe by heading back to shore if the skies start to darken. When possible, don’t sail alone, as it could mean the difference between someone saving your life or not. It’s also nice to have some company while you sail.

Be Prepared

Before setting sail, stock up on everything you need and more. Ensure you have sufficient food and water as well as emergency provisions, including marine engine spares in the event you need them.

Take note of the expiry date on all food and safety equipment so you can replace it if needed. Check the first aid kit is well-stocked and that all fire extinguishers are set up correctly, making sure everyone on board knows where all these items are.

Eat before you leave shore as an empty stomach can lead to feeling seasick. Take sunscreen and sunhats for the strong sun and perform a pre-departure checklist, just like a pilot would do for their aircraft.

Plan For An Emergency

The best way to prepare for an emergency is to plan for one. You should be sure to run drills with your fellow boaters and take a sailing course if you can. Learn how to act in the event of a fire or if you need to abandon ship. Everyone on your trip should understand the ins and outs of the boat and what steps to take in an emergency.


Emergency Equipment Checklist

Use this checklist each time you go on a sailing trip to ensure everything is in order, and you don’t leave anything behind. Having all of these items on board is vital in the case of an emergency, even if you never use them.

  • Lifejackets
  • Lifebelts
  • Flares or other visual distress signals
  • Whistles or airhorns for sound signals
  • A well-stocked first-aid kit
  • Fire extinguishers in case of an onboard fire
  • A torch for sailing at night
  • A toolkit for tears and repairs when on the water
  • Unitor marine products and marine cleaning products for carrying out offshore maintenance
  • A life ring in case of someone falling overboard
  • A mobile phone to call for help if needed

So, the next time you’re planning to set sail on the open waters, take the time to check you have all the equipment you need and that everyone understands where everything is and how to act in an emergency.

Stock up on supplies and plan out your route. If you’re short on equipment or need to buy essential supplies, check out the Offshore Supply website for all your boating requirements.