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Smcdermott 03-15-2006 06:11 PM

Lets talk safety...
As the summer progressed last year I started venturing further and further offshore and came to the realization that the basic coast guard safety gear was not nearly enough. I started to assemble a ditch bag that I hope I never need but know I will glad to have if things go south. Below are the items I currently have in the bag and some new items I will be adding this season. What's in your ditch bag and what else do you do to make sure you are as safe as you can be out there?

Currently in the bag (ACR Rapid Ditch Express) :

Handheld VHF
Handheld GPS
Marine Flares
CDs for daytime signalling
Air Horn
First Aid Kit
Bottled Water
Power Bars
Extra Batteries for VHF and GPS

On the way for this year:

ACR Aqufix PLB with built in GPS (This is a great unit as you can take it with you on other boats as it is registered to you not the boat)
ACR Firefly Plus Stroblight
ACR Firefly 2 Stroblight
Blunt Tip Safety Knife

I also have life jackets right next to the bag under the leaning post that can be grabbed within seconds if things are going bad in a hurry.

For myself I got Sospenders for those trips when I am out alone and plan on wearing the PLB in that instance.

What am I missing?


juro 03-15-2006 07:24 PM

Sean, I definitely feel comfortable in your vessel bro.

Of course you have a first aid kit, but I have recently committed to keeping an up to date Epi-pen within easy reach from now on. I actually bought the two-pen set, one in the chest pack and the other in the first aid kit which is in the truck most of the time.

Smcdermott 03-15-2006 07:33 PM


I also just completed CPR training but there was no mention of using an Epi-Pen. What situation do you envision needing it in? Are there risks associated with it. I should mention I am also planning on getting a barrier device to keep on the boat for administering CPR safety breaths as well.


juro 03-15-2006 07:46 PM

I could use a CPR refresher, I can't recall the recommended breaths / pulses per minute for each age group anymore.

An epi-pen injects antihistamines into the blood stream to halt an allergic reaction in just seconds. Pills take about 15 minutes, which is too long when air passages are constricted by histamine reaction. Food allergies, bee stings, even some fish spines cause allergic reactions. It's important to note that an epi-pen acts in seconds but does not last so either some pills need to follow it up or the fishing day should be ended on treatment so the histamine reaction can not recur while far from medical help.

Smcdermott 03-15-2006 07:57 PM

This was my first course but I understand some of the thinking has changed. They no longer require that you check for a pulse but simply look for signs of response and open an airway and check for breathing. First thing for an adult is to dial 911 if alone or send someone if available. If there are no signs of breathing you give two rescue breaths and then begin CPR at a ratio of 15 compressions to 2 breaths. For a you perform 1 min of CPR before calling 911 if alone. The ratio is 5-1.


juro 03-15-2006 08:07 PM


Originally Posted by Smcdermott
If there are no signs of breathing you give two rescue breaths and then begin CPR at a ratio of 15 compressions to 2 breaths. For a you perform 1 min of CPR before calling 911 if alone. The ratio is 5-1.


could you clarify that a little? I will make it a point to remember this time.

Smcdermott 03-15-2006 08:32 PM

I think the key point missing there was for a child you perform 1 minute of CPR before dialing 911 if alone. Obviously if someone else is there you send them to the phone while you perform CPR. The thinking here is that if a child has stopped breathing they are in serious trouble as they have a strong respiratory system and if its stopped working they have been in trouble for longer period of time and need immediate help. The other point I guess I wasn't very clear on is how to check for breathing. That is a pretty basic concept. After the head tilt or jaw lift to clear the airway (this you really need to learn in person) you simply put your cheek near the mouth to feel for breaths while looking down the chest to look for chest rises. Coughing/heaving is breathing if there is noise and airflow. Coughing motion with no breath is probably a choking situation. Hope this was helpful but if you can a refresher course was recommended at least every other year.


FrenchCreek 03-15-2006 09:08 PM

Whistle around your neck!
Sean, I don't know much about SW boating safety, but on my power boat and drift boat I carry 4 whistles, I use dog training whistles becuse they are loud and sharp sounding. When out on the water, everybody has one around their neck, it is unobtrusive but in case of a catatrophic accident when there is no time for the other gear, this is a minimum recommended by local DFW guys.

juro 03-15-2006 09:22 PM

Yes, Sean -

Very clear explanation thanks. I recall the importance of getting EMT on site as well as the increased frequency of small ones but the minute if alone rule could mean a loved one laughs again - this topic can never be discussed in too detailed a manner.

Do they still advocate the use of the mask? My daughter was head lifeguard at a beach and carried one, when I took CPR last they urged the use of one.

Smcdermott 03-15-2006 09:30 PM

Yes, Juro. They do encourage the use of a mask (barrier device). This is for your protection as there is the chance the victim will vomit during the breathing portion. My understanding is you can get a portable one for your keychain. It is basically a plastic sheet with a small one way vent.


juro 03-16-2006 05:38 AM

Seans list is pretty thorough, I can't think of anything else to add.

I might add to always bring something "upstairs" before boating on unfamiliar waters - meaning review and memorize main headings, pre-assign waypoints if possible, burn in knowledge of reefs and have a general route sequence in mind.

Recently the guys on the ridiculous clave thought I was being a little anal when I insisted on 1 on land 3 on board among other precautions to ensure safety in such a remote area as Acklins but after a McGiver-like day of concocting solutions to hull leaks, electrical problems, fuel line problems; I mean one thing after another - others were echoing the same sentinents when we barely made it back to the dock on a shoe string. Actually, I think we used up all our shoestrings too.

So I would add to the that it's important to bring a plan and a sharp mental preparedness especially when boating new or remote waters.

OC 03-17-2006 09:25 AM


Your safety list is very complete, good job. I wish more people would put the time into it. A few things I would add. Become real familiar with how to use the MOB device on your GPS if you have that capability. Also when summer comes and the water gets warm enough practice MAN OVER BOARD drills every once in awhile they can be fun and it can save a life down the road. If you have never done that you find out how hard it is to get a person back in a boat in even choppy conditions. Learn how bring your bow up into the wind and steady it while trying to pick someone out of the water. Never leave your stern facing a rough sea as you may all end up in the water. Sport fishing boats are very easy to swamp from the stern.
Juro's idea of the epi-pen is right on be it a heart attack, bee string reaction or in our Pacific NW we have lots of Jelly fish that sting and can cause a reaction in some. As you venture further out towards the Gulf Stream you may find them there also and some barbs stuck to your flyline could cause problems for some. My wife who is a physcian put 4 of them in our med kit and every time I go in that thing for hangover relief medication I get nervous just looking at them.
Last always make a plan and let your loved ones know where you are going. If your plans change while at sea call someone and let them know. So many people leave plans with others then when they change them they never call and let them know the changes. They proceed to break down or get in trouble later the people they left the original plans with call the Coast Guard and they look where you originally said you would be and guess what you are miles away from that area drifting toward Greenland.
Best of luck with your deep water fly fishing this year.

Moonlight 03-17-2006 10:25 AM

I like Neoprene Suits but not for wading...
In addition to most of the list I also carry Survival suits, and flares and Smoke signals. Exposure could get you in an open skiff here in the NW even if you did not leave the Skiff just the rain and cold wind would be enough to finish you off.
People spend alot of money on flashy hardware but for my Money a Survival suit is Number One on a very short list.

juro 03-17-2006 10:28 AM

That reminds me...

hypothermia protection is KEY

In the waters around OC's house (and my old home) a survival suit is essential for any adventurous fishing trips. The avg temps are 50's year round and you wouldn't last a half hour before hypothermia got you.

East coast waters are much warmer in summer but if you recall last year we had those upwellings that brought the shoreline temps to record lows, high 40's and low 50's in mid-summer.

Good common sense helps avoid risk of hypothermia but it wouldn't hurt to put a few of Penguin's self-heating packages on board and a space blanket. As they covered in CPR class the fastest way to recover core body temp is thru hot liquid ingestion.

Oh yeah and lots of spare batteries in sealed packages - I used my foodsaver to seal things for long term storage on my old boat.

(good topic Sean)

Smcdermott 03-17-2006 11:03 AM

One thing I am surprised hasn't been mentioned is a life raft. I have been looking into them and it looks like you can get some pretty compact versions but they are pricey, running about $800+ from what I can tell. To me this seems like the best option for the northeast as the times when I would actually where a survival suit flyfishing are pretty few and far between and putting one on before heading to the water in case of fire or other situation doesn't seem reasonable. Throwing over a throw cushion size life raft able to be depolyed in the water does seem feasible. This also helps protect your passengers as buying a selection of different sized survival suits doesn't fit my budget either. The life raft will be on my list of next items to research and consider buying but not in this season's budget. With most of my runs within 10-15 miles of shore I am counting on quick response times with the GPS enabled PLB.

MOB drills, epi-pens and float plans are great adds. I will admit I have not been that consistent with the float plan even though I know how important they are. I think I have a form in my Power Squadron course book to make some copies of and leave with Patrice before each trip.


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