It is always essential to carry a survival bag when you are planning a long cruise or an ocean crossing as you never know what kind of emergencies may arise, but what should you bring?
If the worst happens and you have to abandon the ship, the items in the emergency bag will help you survive in the raft until you are rescued, so it should contain items that will help you to be rescued.
If you do not have a life raft, your chances of survival decrease depending on your location, weather conditions and water temperature. It should be remembered that in most countries, carrying a life raft is compulsory if you are sailing within a certain distance of the coast. International legislation makes it compulsory to carry a life raft.
While deciding what to carry in the emergency bag, consideration should be given to the fact that each manufacturer will include different equipment in a liferaft. Liferafts constructed and certified to ISO 9650 are fitted with equipment appropriate to the type of navigation being undertaken (distance to shore).
All emergency bags should be stored in an easily accessible place. The emergency bag should be brightly coloured and capable of floating for 30 minutes in the water when fully filled and should have the means to be attached to an inflated liferaft.
A good idea is to prepare a prioritised list of the things you will need to pack in your emergency bag.
Hopefully, you will only be in a life raft for a short time before you are rescued, so think about carrying items:
– That indicate you are in distress and will help rescue you; otherwise, no one will be looking for you. Examples are: EPIRB/PLB, flares if the raft does not carry flares, EVDS, a portable waterproof VHF, a powerful waterproof torch with spare batteries, a strobe light, a whistle and a satellite phone.
– To help you survive while awaiting rescue. Basic necessities are high-energy food and water (a hand-held water purifier is also useful). You may also need a spare pair of glasses, warm and waterproof clothing, sunglasses, sun protection, lip balm, medicines and antibiotics, motion sickness tablets and a basic fishing kit. Vital personal items that you will need once rescued are important, such as your passport, credit cards, mobile phone. From the above items you should choose the most important items that will fit in a single lifejacket bag. Remember that the liferaft is small and fragile, so you should take only the essentials: a minimum of space and moderate weight.
Depending on the make and model, each liferaft may have different additional items included, so it is important to check what may already be in the liferaft.