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How to Increase Your Chances of Surviving a Vessel Sinking

Earlier this year, researchers in the NIOSH Commercial Fishing Safety Program published a study of factors associated with fishing crews surviving the loss of their boats while at sea in Alaska. They looked at 187 vessel disasters between 2000 and 2014, involving 617 crew members. After crunching the numbers, they came up with a few take aways:

  • 90% of crew members on fishing vessels that sank in Alaska during 2000–2014 survived.

  • Use of immersion suits and life rafts significantly improved the odds of survival.

  • Crew members need access to well-maintained lifesaving equipment and skills for use.

For the short version, check out the infographic to learn how to improve your odds of surviving a vessel sinking and things that you can do to prevent your boat from sinking and to prepare your crew and yourself in case the worst should happen. For a deep dive into the data and to read the full discussion in forming their conclusions, click here to read the study.

The numbers tell the story. You are more likely to survive if you can 1), get into a life raft, 2) you are wearing an immersion suit and 3), the event does not occur during bad weather. For 1 & 2 to occur you must have well maintained equipment and know how and when to use it. From the study's conclusion: "[T]here is a need for primary prevention of vessel sinkings; however, when vessels sink despite those efforts, having access to well-maintained, serviceable lifesaving equipment and the knowledge and skills to use it properly are critical factors for survival." (Emphasis added.)

Do you or your crew need training on marine safety skills and how to conduct emergency procedures drills? Check out the course listings on our website or sign up on our Course Waiting List and we'll notify you when we have a workshop in your area.

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