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Responding calmly during a boating accident can literally mean the difference between life and death, and there are a number of steps to take to help. The most important factor is to inspect the damage to the boat's hull and the well-being of other passengers as quickly as possible, because the first few minutes after a boating accident occurs are critical. Once every passenger that requires immediate first aid is attended to, individuals should determine if the ship is still seaworthy. If not, immediate preparations should be made to abandon the vessel, which includes gathering plenty of food, medical equipment, and drinkable water. A call to the coast guard should also rank high in priority after a boating accident, because the first inspection of the damages may not reveal hidden dangers that may develop later.
Decisions made in haste during a crisis are often the ones that kill the passengers. For example, if a vessel strikes a coral reef and will definitely not stay afloat, there are a number of safety precautions that must be completed in rapid succession. Skipping even one of these steps, like remembering to grab drinkable water, could mean the difference between a rough few days at sea and a complete nightmare scenario. No matter what happens, it is essential to always remain focused on the best course of action for the entire crew.
Establishing a leader during a boating accident is an equally important decision, because passengers may have varying opinions as to the right thing to do. For example, a crew member with a minor cut may be inclined to see first aid immediately, and everyone's attention can easily be drawn from a much more pressing situation. Someone assuming a leadership role can often be all that it takes for a panicked crew to spring into action, and the sooner that this is determined, the better. Often this person would be the boat captain himself since he would have the most experience in handling situations during a boating accident, but if the captain is injured or loses his composure, someone must quickly assume this responsibility.
Perhaps the best way to avoid turmoil during a boating accident is to have a checklist prepared beforehand, so that any passenger can quickly determine the correct steps to take in an emergency. People will react very differently in troubling situations, so this simple step could easily help focus everyone's thought process when it otherwise would be impossible. While it may sound trivial, having written instructions is just as effective as a leader barking out orders, so this should never be taken for granted.
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