NEW YEAR SAFETY RESOLUTIONS by rob schegg Among the resolutions we all make, and break, each year, can I suggest a few that may keep you with us so that you can make similar resolutions for 2007. I refer, of course, to safety precautions Capsize Swimming in our local rivers feels cold most of the year, but is dangerously so in winter. A good rule of thumb is that, without a lifejacket or flotation device, you will survive for about two minutes per degree of water temperature. With our local waters at one degree, you have about two minutes to get your torso (surrounding your heart and lungs) out of the water. Your best bet is either to re-board your boat if you can; try it at your next capsize drill. If you can’t re-board, and most novices and veterans can’t, pull yourself onto the upturned shell of your boat and await rescue. Attempting to swim cools your core temperature dangerously. Stay afloat, get on your boat! This brings home two other considerations; is your boat sufficiently buoyant to keep you afloat and who is going to rescue you? Buoyancy Unless severely damaged, or poorly maintained, . Boats can be swamped by waves coming over the sideor by the hull being holed by underwater damage or by a really big crab. In most cases a buoyant boat can be rowed to safety with the crew’s torsos well clear of the water. A non-buoyant boat will require urgent rescue by outsiders, e.g. a suitable safety boat with capacity for the whole crew of four to nine members. I’ve put a short paragraph on boat selection below. Rescue Rescue can be from the bank on narrow rivers, e.g. the Wear at Durham or by a safety boat. Even a small safety boat can rescue a crew reasonably quickly by ferrying the crew to the bank, but an eight some distance from a bank on which a landing can be made is at far greater risk. Singles can be rescued by other singles using the buddy technique. There are some stills of the technique on the NERN web-site and I will put a video clip on the site as soon as I’ve figured out how. Please practice the technique in a pool during capsize drills before relying on it for real. With practice, it is easy; in a panic it may not be. Sort out your rescue plan before you boat. Audible Warning of Impending Collision If in doubt, shout! Ambient Conditions If you are not sure about the conditions, don’t go out. If you don’t know the river, or tarn, ask someone who does know it. Novices should not make their own judgements as to whether to go out, and juniors MUST NOT. For a very good guide on hypothermia and the affects of cold, follow this link: If in doubt, don’t go out. Look where you are going; if two boats collide, neither was keeping an adequate lookout and each was, therefore, partly to blame. Remember the old epitaph on a sailor’s grave: “He was right, dead right, but just as dead as if he’d been wrong”. Incident Reporting This is not just for the benefit of officialdom. If a pattern of incidents is developing, we can all look for ways to prevent those incidents. Without incident reporting, we’ll never see that pattern. We do not use these reports to assist in a witch-hunt. Boat Selection (Fours and Eights) When buying a new boat, please think carefully about your selection. coast guard has introduced new guidelines requiring a swamped boat to float with the crew seats no more than two inches below the water surface. The ARA has requested boat builders to put a plate on the boat giving, among other things, the maximum crew weight that the boat will support (not all do so). It is up to the purchaser of the boat to confirm with the supplier that the boat is adequately buoyant, and will meet the coast guard guideline. Your contract is with your supplier; and he should know the buoyancy of his boats.