Do you remember the last time you boarded a commercial airliner to take a trip? Did they do a safety briefing prior to the plane taking off? Of course they did. If you travel a lot, you have probably seen it so many times that you just ignore it. Have you ever thought about safety briefing the passengers aboard your boat? If not, then I recommend you get in the habit of providing a safety briefing for new passengers.

Oftentimes we invite guests on our boat and for some of these people, it may be their first time on the water. If so, they are not familiar with the safety knowledge that may be needed while aboard. Taking a few minutes to brief your passengers on the safety aspects of your vessel can truly matter during emergency situations.

So, what are the chances that your passengers will really need to use this information? Those chances are pretty slim. Or, at least, I hope they are. But let’s go back to that flight you were on where you saw your first safety briefing. Chances are pretty slim that you will ever need to know about the oxygen mask or the flotation device at seat 4A. But they still tell you. As the captain of your vessel, you should have this same mindset.

Your pre-cruise talk is also a good time to fill your passengers in on convenience items such as the head or trash receptacle. But here, let’s talk about the safety related things you can discuss:

Life Jackets – This one should be obvious. There should be a life jacket aboard your vessel for each passenger. In addition, the life jacket should be the right size. Do your passengers know where they are? Do they know how to put one on? A little bit of direction prior to leaving the dock is a lot easier than trying to do so in the event of an emergency.

Safety Equipment Location – Let your passengers know where the fire extinguishers and other safety equipment are located. It is also a good idea to ensure that someone else aboard knows the location of your marine radio and how to use it.

Dos and Don’ts –

– Don’t put your legs/arms between the boat and the dock.

– Don’t jump from the dock to the boat and vice versa.

– Don’t swim around the back of the boat with the engine running.

– Do have three points of contact when getting on/off the boat.

– Don’t ride on the gunwale of the boat.

– Do stay seated when underway.

Man Overboard – Your job is to safely pilot the boat. If someone goes overboard, you may not see it or you may not be able to keep your eyes on the victim due to conditions. Your passengers should know what is needed from them should such an event occur.

Listen to the Captain – If you are out on the water with passengers and a potentially dangerous situation arises, it is imperative that your passengers listen to you.  Maybe you ran into bad weather or the boat started taking on water.  Whatever the situation is, this is not the time for your passengers to question your directions. They need to understand that in such situations, time is of the essence and following directions quickly and efficiently is very important.

These are just a few things you can discuss with your passengers prior to leaving the dock. It won’t take you long to do so and it could end up saving a life.