When ever you have new crew on board, or if the crew have not sailed with you for some time, you should always give them a safety brief. The following briefly outlines items that you may wish to include and some background information.
What you include is up to you, your boat, your crew and what type/distance sailing you will be doing. The key is make sure that everyone is safe onboard and understands what to do in an emergency.
You may want your crew to sign in the log book as well to say you have given them a safety brief, remember that should an accident occur, failure to show that you have given a safety brief could be costly to you in terms of litigation, money and worry.
- Show your crew how to safely use the cooker and any other gas appliances on board.
- Show them how to isolate the gas supply in the galley and at the bottle and ensure that the gas is always turned off when not in use.
- Remember gas is heavier than air – so explain the dangers of accumulation in the bilges and thus risk of explosion.
- If you have a gas alarm system fitted explain its use.
- It is a good idea to have a gas emergency action card.
- Gas bottle location – we recommend that only skipper changes this unless they are sure another person is competent in doing so.
- Location and use of manual bilge pump - explain not to use the electrical pump or change the status on any electrical equipment. Also describe the correct procedure for venting the boat in case of a gas leak
- We have a no smoking policy on board our boats, but you may wish to allow people to smoke on decks, make sure they take care in disposing of their matches, cigarette stubs or pipe ash.
- They should NEVER smoke below decks.
- Prevention is much better than cure when it comes to fire on board a yacht so we recommend that smoke detectors and a gas alarm is fitted and appropriate fire extinguishers, one in each cabin is a good idea along with a fire blanket close to the cooker, and an automatic extinguisher in the engine bay.
- Location of Extinguishers - You need to show the location of the different types of fire extinguishers and how to use them (Dry powder extinguishers are common on boats, they are messy but they do smother the flames and stops re-ignition).
- Engine room –if you have an automatic fire extinguisher in here– show the location of hole for the hose of another extinguisher and explain to use this rather than opening the hatch which will then allow more oxygen into the compartment.
- Also show the location of the "Fuel cut off" valve.
- Fire Blanket – Use as protection, or for putting out fires in the galley or if someone sets themselves alight. If someone sets themselves alight push them over so the flames are away from their face and then smother them in a blanket working from their face down. Do not roll them over as this will only spread the flames.
When using a fire blanket make sure your hands are covered and protected with the blanket.
- Fire buckets in cockpit lockers – Do not forget water, there is plenty around! but do not use on diesel fires and make sure that the electrical supply is isolated prior to using water on an electrical fire. Splashing the water on can be better than tipping it all at once.
- Smoke detectors – location and use.
- Location and operation
Lifejackets (Life Jackets and Checks)
- Issue one to each person and show them how to put it on and adjust it to fit themselves. Make sure they know which is their lifejacket.
- It is recommended that they are worn at all times. They MUST however be worn:
a. At night
b. In fog
c. Strong winds – i.e. when sails reefed
d. In tender
e. Any emergency situation
f. Non swimmer
g. During MOB
h. Discretion of the skipper
- Show them their harness "D" ring on the life jacket or separate harness and the safety lanyard and explain that these should be used
a. In strong winds – i.e. when sails reefed
b. When sea or weather conditions would make a MOB recovery difficult
c. At night
d. In fog
- It is important to show the location of the strong points on deck and jack stays and how to move around the boat using these points and the safety line.
- Method of use - it is important that all crew know how to send a DSC Distress Alert and a verbal Mayday Call
- Ideally a Mayday emergency card should be next to the VHF radio (see under Training Information - VHF- Mayday call where there is a downloadable version of one for you to use)
- Your crew need to know the location and method of use of your flares on board. You will not have time in an emergency to show them!
First Aid Box
- Location of your first aid box. It is a good idea to know if anyone has any medical/first aid training.
- Show your crew the correct way to use your sea toilet and any do’s and don’ts you may have such as:
- No paper down the toilet i.e. if it has not passed through you it does not go down the loo. In this case you need to make sure a bin is provided, we also provide nappy sacks as well for the used toilet paper to go in before it goes into the bin.
There is so much here that can be included and here are some ideas of what to show and make your crew aware of:
- Location and use of Liferaft and the HRU (hydrostatic release unit) if fitted.
- Location and use of danbuoys, life sling, rescue ladder, boat hook etc.
- Actions to take in case of MOB – i.e. shout, point, throw. Explain that if they fall in they will experience cold water shock - emphasise the three points:
a) You are likely to gasp for air and then breathe rapidly, so protect your airway from waves and spray.
b) Your heart will be working harder, so don’t try to swim. Just relax until you feel your responses stabilizing.
c) The effects will be at their worst in the ¬first 30 seconds but will have gone within three minutes.
- Anchor windlass hazards of use
- Anchor locker cover and cockpit locker lids - ensure clipped back when open so it does not fall on someone.
- Deck cleats are a trip hazard and notorious for stubbing your toe on.
- Explain how to move around the deck safely - there is a good saying "one hand for the boat and one hand for you."
- Coach roof can be slippery use the treaded areas.
- Genoa Cars are a trip hazard.
- Winches beware of crushing and jamming fingers.
- Winch handles method of passing, ensure not swinging.
- The Boom is a hazard both at sea and in harbour. Use the traveller to position the boom off centre.
- Sheets and halyards sometimes flap beware of eyes and fingers.
- Shore power connections always make the boat connection before connecting to the electrical supply.
- Ensure fenders do not cover the stern light on the night sail.
- Berthing the vessel, no jumping, beware of potential jamming or crushing of hands and fingers, use fenders!
- Method of starting, stopping and controlling the engine, this is very important.
- Method of navigating to a suitable port of refuge.
- Cooking and making hot drinks. Beware of burns, we use thermal cups for hot drinks at sea.
- Food safety is very important, washing hands, separate boards for raw and cooked foods etc.
- Beware in the companion way the treads can get slippery.
- Use grab rails.
- Use “Lee Cloths” if sleeping in the saloon berth when at sea.
- Seasickness, if at risk use medication. Crew who are seasick encourage water intake
- Location of navigation and other light switches.
Other Useful Information
- Contact numbers – we keep these at the side of chart table and the crew are made aware of who to call in an emergency.
- Sun protection, location of cream and advise on wearing hats/adequate clothing - everyone who goes to see should have the appropriate clothing including good waterproof clothing. Multi-layers are best and offer flexibility.
- Shoes/boots on deck - these should be non-slip and non-marking - it is essential that people wear good shoes/boots on deck to prevent injury to feet and toes, a common injury on board is stubbing toes on cleats - this is very painful!
- Drink plenty of water/tea/coffee etc. to keep hydrated and/or warm.
For a hand out please click here for a downloadable version.