What Causes a Fall Overboard

It's important to be mindful at all times about the power of the sea and the ever-present danger that it and other large bodies of water pose. A fall overboard, at best, will leave you drenched and feeling extremely foolish but, at worst, it could lead to loss of life. Adults and boat skippers, in particular, need to be vigilant about children who are under their supervision and should also always set a good example by wearing a life jacket and observing sensible safety protocols. It's important also to be aware of the things that typically cause a fall overboard.

Rough seas and unusually large waves

Clearly, the risk of a boating accident greatly increases if the weather worsens and leads to rough seas. Boats should not set out if the weather represents a danger and boat skippers should always check weather forecasts in advance to gauge whether conditions are expected to become dangerous. Conditions can deteriorate very quickly whilst at sea, so always keep an eye out for changing weather patterns and be ready to return to port. When conditions are rough, it's vital to ensure that all passengers (especially kids) are either in the cabin or are seated securely. Another risk is a rogue unusually large wave and especial care must be taken if passing a large boat that may deliver a large wake.

Boat collisions

Any sudden unexpected bump whilst on the water can be very dangerous, causing people to lose their footing or causing the boat to list dangerously. Collisions can be with another vessel so boat captains must be wary in busy waters. The protocol with approaching boat is to pass them on the starboard side. Additionally, collisions may be with static objects, such as rocks, sandbars or jetties. Any danger markers should always be heeded and caution should be exercised if close to shore.

Fishing and other distractions

People go out in boats because it's fun, but in the moments when we are having the most fun, there is a danger that we could let our guard down and end up in the water. An extremely tragic example of how badly things can go wrong is illustrated by the death of one adult and three small children in Scotland in 2012. Two adults had taken their children on a canoe trip and were fishing from the canoe. Whilst in the process of landing a flurry of caught fish, the canoe capsized. One of the adults and one child survived but it was an extreme price to pay for what was supposed to be a fun outing.

Incorrect footwear and careless boat behavior

There are times when people bring disaster upon themselves through foolishness or lack of thought. Messing around on boats, especially if alcohol is involved, is completely unacceptable and puts people's lives at risk. Another factor that often contributes to falls overboard is wearing inappropriate footwear. For example, there may be occasions when it is valid to climb up to the prow of the boat. This can be accomplished safely if water conditions are benign and if care is taken. However, wearing shoes that have little grip on a surface that is wet may lead to a fall and, if in doubt, it's best to avoid any behavior that may be risky.

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