How to Recover After Falling Overboard


While some operators and passengers receive serious injuries from the impact of a boating accident, it’s thought that around 40% of all fatalities come after falling overboard. Of these fatalities, nearly two-thirds are a result of drowning…so this is a serious problem.


Before we offer a short guide of what to do when in the water after a boating accident, we should first point out that prevention is better than a cure. To avoid falling overboard, stay seated while traveling and be sensible if you’ve consumed an alcoholic drink (or two!). If you feel light-headed and dizzy from the alcohol, standing up and navigating the waves can be incredibly tricky.

Furthermore, we recommend wearing a life vest. If you don’t want to wear one for whatever reason, make sure one is close by and can be put on within seconds.

Sep-by-Step Guide

  • Before doing anything else, stay calm. Often, people throw their arms around and kick too hard, but all this does is drains energy levels.
  • Once calm, shout ‘MAN OVERBOARD’ and then ‘starboard’ or ‘port’ depending on your location. Don’t be afraid to shout it multiple times; even if you don’t catch the attention of your own boat, it may alert others to your presence.
  • Called a ‘spotter’, somebody needs to take the responsibility of pointing at you and never losing you from their sight until help reaches your location.
  • If you’re wearing a life vest already (you should), this is great news. If not, it’s important to stay calm until somebody throws a floatation tool.
  • After being pulled aboard, take a moment to sit down and get the heart rate back to normal. Furthermore, have somebody check you over for injuries before moving again.

If you follow this advice after boating accidents, you’ll increase your chances of survival even in difficult conditions!