Yachting Safety Tips: Packing an Emergency Grab Bag

No yacht owner wants to ever consider the prospect of leaving their boat behind, abandoning it in the event of an emergency—and thankfully, most boat owners will never have to experience this. But, as the old adage goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” To this end, having an appropriately packed grab bag on your yacht is going to be one of those things you should always have, yet never hope to use.

A grab bag consists of everything you’ll need in the event of an “abandon ship” situation and could, in the right situation, be the most essential safety precaution you take when going through your list of yacht maintenance in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

When packing a grab bag (or “bug out” bag, as some boaters call it), you should always keep in mind that whatever you’re packing will need to provide value to you when you’re spending time in a life raft or other emergency floater. To that end, there are a few core items that absolutely cannot be overlooked. Here’s a quick overview of a traditional grab bag:

  • Your essential personal possessions. This will include things like your wallet, keys, passport, money (including credit cards), mobile phone and anything else that you absolutely need. A good idea is to store as many of these things as you can in a waterproof pouch in your grab bag as soon as you step aboard.
  • A DSC-enabled VHF with GPS tracking. This is going to be your lifeline in the event of an emergency—literally. Don’t forget the extra batteries!
  • Food and water. It’s a good idea to pack high-protein snacks and bottled water, enough to be rationed for several days.
  • Flares or signal lights. Having some way to signal rescue—be it by air or sea—is going to be very important. Make sure you have self-lighting flares or a hand-powered strobe that will attract rescue crews, especially at night.
  • Basic and essential medications. Pack some basic pain relievers and fever reducers, as well as some anti-nausea medication if possible. If you have an ongoing medical condition that requires special medication, it’s a good idea to have this on hand as well (enough for a couple of days).
  • Foil blankets. Most life rafts are going to have these included, but packing a couple more in your grab bag won’t hurt—they take up very little space when folded and could end up helping you retain body heat in the face of some severe conditions.

Keep in mind, the above are just the basics—there are numerous things you can and should consider packing in your grab bag—including tech-devices that can help you communicate and position yourself. Remember, there are two objectives to keep in mind when packing: 1) being able to safely survive out on the water for at least a couple of days and 2) being able to signal or communicate with rescue personnel.

No one ever wants to be in a situation where they have to abandon ship, but should this situation ever arise, your diligence in putting together a well thought out grab bag is going to keep you alive and in good health. Make this part of your routine yacht maintenance in Fort Lauderdale, FL this year and have peace of mind every time you hit the water.

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