Here are 20 quick ways to survive the capsize:

1. Don’t capsize. Get trained in safely operating your vessel. The Coast Guard Auxiliary has lots of free information, and many areas have boating clubs with knowledgeable sailors eager to help.

2. Don’t overload your vessel or let cargo shift around. Don’t make sharp turns at high speed. Take large wakes and waves as straight on the bow as possible and at slow speed (whether paddling or under power).

3. If it’s your pleasure boat, you are responsible for your passengers. This is not a good time for drinking alcohol.

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4. Don’t panic if you capsize. Yes, it’s easier said than done, but stay calm and focus on your priorities.

5. Don or acquire flotation.

6. Immediately right your vessel if feasible and doing so won’t risk sinking it. 7. Beware of entanglement.

7. Beware of entanglement.

8. Avoid hypothermia by getting out of the water if possible.

9. If you need rescue, stay on or near the capsized boat.

10. If you can’t stay with the boat, make yourself visible by floating high and surround- ing yourself with floating objects. Contrasting, bright colors are especially visible to searchers.

11. If you’re not alone, do a head count.

12. Render first aid if necessary and possible.

13. If there’s a possibility of sharks nearby, don’t act like shark food. Don’t splash and thrash about like wounded prey.

14. Keep your clothing on— it can protect you from sunburn and jellyfish stings, and may help hold off hypothermia.

15. Aboard a ship, always carry a pocket flashlight.

16. Aboard a ship, memorize two ways out from your berthing area to the open deck.

17. On larger vessels, know where the life jackets and life rafts/life boats are located.

18. On small vessels, know where the life jackets are stowed.

19. If the crew of a commercial operation conducts a pre-trip safety briefing, pay very close attention.

20. In Third World countries, do not rely on the commercial operator for your safety or survival. It’s up to you.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary; 877-875-6296

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Summer 2015 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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