Before you embark on your powerboating course, it can be useful to learn some important first aid information and techniques from a boating perspective. There are lots of potential dangers when at sea, and it’s particularly important that beginners know how to deal with any emergencies that might arise. You never know: these skills could come in handy at any time, so learn them sooner rather than later to protect yourself and others from serious harm.
First aid courses aren’t time consuming, but they could help save lives if you run into difficulties on the water. The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) run one day courses where budding powerboaters can get a certificate lasting for three years, recommended by both the MCA and HSE.
One of the most important aspects of water-based first aid is to learn how to deal with cold shock and hypothermia. There is always the risk of falling overboard if an inexperienced pilot loses control of the powerboat, so it is crucial that you know how to warm someone up quickly and safely. It can be extremely dangerous to let someone stay cold after being immersed in cold seawater, so this is one of the most vital pieces of first aid you can learn.
It is also useful to know how to help someone who has taken water into the lungs through near-drowning. Of course, prevention is preferable to needing to use first aid, and everyone on the boat should be wearing appropriate flotation devices, such as life jackets. CPR is often necessary to help the patient start breathing normally, and chest compression should be performed to help expel water. However, there is a very precise technique which should be employed, so this should be learnt under the eye of a professional.
Seasickness is a very common issue for many people who spend time on a boat, and is easily treated. The cause is the misalignment between the vision and the physical rocking motion of the boat, sending the brain conflicting signals which lead to nausea. While there are over-the-counter medications available to those suffering with seasickness, some people may be taken by surprise or encounter a severe bout, so it’s important to know how to reduce the nausea experienced by a sufferer, along with dealing with the dehydration associated with intense vomiting.
Most good boating first aid courses will also tell you about the protocol for sea rescues and medical assistance on the water. Time is of the essence when in treacherous sea conditions, so learn the first aid basics to keep everyone safe.
Charles Arthur is a keen powerboating enthusiast who regularly blogs about his experiences out on the waves
Bengt Nyman via Flickr shared under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) license.