Getting a person aboard your boat can be much harder than you think. Here are USCG techniques:
Before attempting to rescue a boater in the water follow these steps.
- Phone or radio the police or Coast Guard.
- Approach the victim by putting the bow into the current and the wind.
- Swing the bow toward the victim and, when you get close, put the engine in neutral to minimize danger from the propellers.
- If the swimmer is conscious, tie a rope at the middle and stern of your boat and put it in the water; the victim can use the loop as a step.
- If the victim is unconscious, position him at the stern and maneuver him so he faces away from the boat, arms in the air.
- Grab his wrists and bob him up and down; on the third bob, use the momentum to pull him into the boat.
- After recovery elevate his legs and cover him with a blanket — this will help treat him if he’s in shock.
- Stay at the scene until help arrives.
TIP: "Don’t get into the water to get someone out. If you get into the water, you put yourself at risk for hypothermia or injury. You don’t want to become part of the recovery." —Executive Petty Officer Patrick Blakeley, Coast Guard Air Station, San Diego, Calif.