Surviving a ship wreck may seem a little bit implausible, however, cruises are becoming more and more popular. Recent events over the last year such as the Costa Concordia disaster mean that preparing for a ship wreck, as we do on a flight, is important.
As with any difficult situation, the importance of keeping calm can not be stressed highly enough. The natural instinct is to panic, people do panic as they become full of fear. Remaining calm will help you to think clearer and save vital energy needed to disembark the vessel.
Assess the Situation
You will have time to assess the situation prior to leaving the ship and there will be instructions from the crew as to what to do. Prevention is better than cure and it does bode well to pay attention to the safety instructions given prior to departure, however, make sure you are wearing long sleeved clothing and your legs are covered. Try to get a life jacket on as soon as possible, buoyancy is vital for when you leave the ship. Ensure footwear is as light as possible and water resistant. Do not attempt to take anything with you, luggage will have to be left, there is little point in attempting to save anything. It will hinder you and put other passengers at risk.
In the Lifeboat
Keeping warm is essential to reduce the risk of hypothermia. Once in the lifeboat, try to wrap yourself in a blanket. Check for any wounds, if you are bleeding, try your best to treat the wound by applying pressure to the wound. Watch your body for shock, shock is dangerous and not dealt with swiftly, then it can be fatal. Keep as warm as you can.
Check Other Passengers
If you’re able to do so. Remember, it is vital to look afteryourself first. On a flight, passengers are advised to put the oxygen mask on themselves first before attempting to assist other people. The same applies to a ship wreck. While instinct may tell you to care for your loved ones, it is imperative you are able to do and this can only be done by caring for yourself first.
If no Lifeboat is Available
Then look for any debris to hang on to. Use anything you can, usually debris from the ship will be close by and you will be able to this. Look for any other people who are in the water and remain close together. Protect your skin as much as you can, shelter as much as you can from hot sun and if in very cold water, ensure you huddle with other people to keep as warm as possible.
Signalling for Help
Signalling for help will be easier from a lifeboat as the boat will be equipped with flares and smokes. Do not use them unless you are aware of rescuers close by. These are precious to you and other passengers. If you are close to land, then it may be possible to locate the coastguard. If you see land, then head for it. If in the water, then whistles and a torch should be fitted to your life jacket. Use the whistle as much as you can muster the energy to, the torch for when you can see rescuers.
Finally, try to keep anything from the wreckage, it could come in useful, for rescuers and investigation purposes. Keep a close out for rescuers, they will need your help to locate you and your group.
Tom Silsby is a pro yachtsman an enjoys windsurfing. He blogs for Mustang Sailing and teaches RYA Sea Survival courses on the Solent. If you are planning on taking a cruise or yachting pick on of these courses the guarantee your safety.