Lifeboat Drill & Abandoning Ship
Lifeboat drill is carried out on every ship soon after it sails and should become a well-rehearsed procedure. Passengers are instructed in how to fit life-jackets, how they are to proceed to their lifeboat stations, and what to take with them. Sailors in small boats should also devise such a drill and instruct everyone on board.
If the signal is given to abandon ship put on warm, preferably wool, clothing including hat and gloves and wrap a towel around your neck. Clothes will not drag you under if you end up in the water and they will help ward off the worst enemy – exposure. Take a torch if you can and grab chocolates and boiled sweets if they are handy. Do NOT push or shout, you may start a panic – an orderly embarkation into lifeboats and on to rafts or dinghies will be faster in the long run and establish a calmer attitude.
Don’t inflate your life-jacket until you leave the ship or plane. On small boats life-jackets should be worn all the time. They are brightly colored and are usually equipped with a whistle, light, marker dye and – when for use in warmer waters – a shark repellent.
If you have to jump overboard, first throw something that floats and jump close to it.
Abandoning a ship or ditching from a plane, it is essential that you take what equipment you can with you. A life-jacket or lifebelt will save a lot of energy that you might otherwise expend in trying to keep afloat. But even without one it is not difficult to float in the ocean. The human body is of lower density than salt water and anyone who has learned to relax in the water is not in immediate danger from drowning. However, panic or fear make relaxation difficult and many find floating difficult under these conditions. Without a life-jacket or lifebelt, air trapped in clothing will help buoyancy – a good reason for keeping your clothes on despite the frequent advice that you should strip them off.