Marine Safety FAQs

Frequently Asked Marine Safety Questions

What is the definition of cold water?


Cold water can be defined it two ways. The first way is in terms of the human body's response to cold water immersion. At water temperatures below 70° F (21° C), a sudden and unexpected immersion in cold water may result in cold water shock, putting one at risk for drowning. The second definition of cold water is the legal definition established by the U.S. Coast Guard and enacted in marine safety regulations. By that definition, cold water is water at a temperature of 59° F (15° C) or colder.




How long can a person survive in cold water?


It depends. Factors such as water temperature, body fat, clothing, activity level, will to survive, etc., can significantly influence survival time in the water. You can survive longer in cold water if wearing a PFD and using heat retention techniques like the H.E.L.P. (Heat Eascape Lessening Position) and Huddle position HELP Position The H.E.L.P. Position Huddle Position The Huddle Position




What is the best kind of personal flotation device (PFD)?


There is no one best PFD. Some things to consider:

  • Some PFDs have more flotation than others.
  • Some protect the body's high heat loss areas.
  • Some are comfortable to wear while working.
  • Some have inherent flotation, while others are inflatable.
  • Some are USCG approved and some are not.
There are a variety of types and styles available for a range of situations and users. Make sure your PFD fits you and meets your needs. If you can, try out a variety in an AMSEA pool session. The best PFD is the one you will wear.




What kind of immersion suit should I buy?


As with PFDs, there isn't one right answer. Immersion suit manufacturers make suits with a variety of features and sizes ranging from "Child" to "Adult Jumbo". You have a range to pick from. Please see manufacturers' and retailers' websites for additional information.




What are the safety requirements for my boat?


Requirements differ depending on the vessel's size and propulsion, the area in which it is used, whether it used for recreational or commercial purposes. The best source of information on required safety gear, licenses, and training is your state boating office and the U.S. Coast Guard. Recreational boaters can find more information at the Coast Guard's boating safety website, https://www.uscgboating.org/. Commercial fishermen will find the Coast Guard's Fish Safe West website, http://www.fishsafewest.info/default.asp, useful. Particularly hlepful is the checklist generator that creates a list of required safety and survival gear, based on information about your boat, crew, and operations. The cecklist generator can be found at http://www.fishsafewest.info/checklist/generator.html.




What kind of clothing is best for preventing hypothermia?


Since half of your body heat can be lost through your head, a warm hat is an effective hypothermia preventer. Clothing insulates by trapping air close to the body. Layering traps more air than single garments. Since water is an efficient heat conductor, fabrics that keep you dry or insulate when wet are the best all around for people exposed to wet and cold environments. Dressing in layers of clothing made of good insulating materials topped with a wind/water barrier is an effective strategy against hypothermia.




I've completed USCG-accepted Drill Conductor training, but I've lost my card that proves this. What should I do?


We can help! Please see our form, Replacement Drilll Conductor Card.




How should I dispose of an old EPIRB?


Old EPIRBs – emergency position-indicating radio beacons – require proper disposal. An EPBIRB is a device that can be automatically or manually activated to transmit a distress signal to a satellite. EPIRBs that activate automatically typically have a hydro-static release mechanism that allows the beacon to release from its bracket should a vessel sink, float to the surface and start transmitting. When EPIRBs need to be disposed of they should be made inoperable and demolished to prevent accidental activation after they are removed from service. Steps to be taken when disposing of EPIRBs:

  • Flag EPIRBs Out of Service at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov or by calling 888-212-7283.
  • Turn off or disable EPIRBs at the switch.
  • Unscrew or break off external antennas.
  • Disassemble units and remove batteries.
  • EPIRBs may now be discarded. Dispose of batteries as hazardous material.
Buying a boat with an EPIRB registered to someone else? Selling an EPIRB with a boat? Lending your EPIRB to someone else? Always update EPIRB registration information with NOAA/USMCC at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov or by calling 888-212-7283.