“Man Overboard!” This is not what you want to hear when on the water. Forget the gender identification, when a person, pet, or gear goes over the side, everyone needs to respond.
Therefore, wearing a life vest is always a great idea. Canoes and kayaks can flip in a moment. Rafts and row boats can lose passengers quickly. Power and sail boats can accelerate and cause passengers and gear to quickly evacuate. I also teach everyone how to swim.
Let’s start with prevention! People, kids, and pets ALL need to wear a life vest. Modern vests are lightweight, comfortable, designer, and come in all kinds of cool colors. You don’t have to wear the orange collars anymore. Pets can be wrapped into a velcro sealed vest that even has a handle on it! If the boat is moving, wear a vest! Honestly, they also keep off the bugs, sun, and help keep you warm or cool. Heck they even come with pockets, whistles, and other custom features.
Keep the decks clear! Tie down the coolers, gear, and other trip hazards. Also keep the deck from getting slippery. Water, fish slime, spilled drinks, and mud can all cause a slip hazard.
If little pets and kids can’t follow instructions, attach them to a leash! Even tough sailors hook up to leashes when in rough seas. I would rather look cruel than lose a kid or pet overboard. While you are at it, add a leash to your hat, sunglasses, and other paraphernalia.
Have a Throw rope or bag ready and available. If you are moving when someone goes overboard, the captain needs to turn around. Toss the life ring or throw rope to hook them up. A long boat pole will help when they are closer. If they are unconscious or injured, you may need to dive in and help. Make sure to mark where the person entered the water, so you do not run them over.
Everyone aboard is responsible for everyone’s safety. Pay attention, anticipate problems, and get trained. Maybe practice a man overboard drill and deliberately make everyone respond correctly. Every crew member must know everyone else’s job. If the Captain is knocked unconscious, someone needs to step up.
If the boat fails and everyone needs to go overboard, stay together, and stay with the boat, unless it is on fire or sinks. Keep a cell phone in your floatation vest pocket. Use a waterproof bag to keep it dry. Be prepared prevents most accidents.
Be smart, stay dry, and Boat smarter!