Top 10 safety equipment tips from the Ballistic RIBs team

Knowing that you have taken care of all the safety aspects, means you can focus on having a great day out.  However experienced you are, there are essential safety devices you should always carry on board your RIB.

Here’s our list of the minimum safety equipment you should always carry on any journey.

1. Lifejackets

These are essential and the single most important safety device.  Boating can be extremely unpredictable, so it is vital to wear lifejackets or buoyancy aids when on board. Even on a beautiful calm summers day, sadly accidents can happen.

You should always wear a lifejacket, even if you are a strong swimmer.  You simply never know how long you may be in the water and if it is cold your energy levels will drop rapidly. You may be injured, unconscious or will need your arms free to signal for help.

If you find yourself in the water, a lifejacket or buoyancy aid could save your life. Ensure  that it is the correct size and type for you, properly fastened and that you understand how to operate it.

2. Always wear your kill cord

Always carry a spare one too. Sadly, there are too many reports of accidents where the driver has not been wearing a kill cord. Find out more about using your kill cord.

3. First Aid Kit

At least one crew member on your RIB should have a basic understanding of first aid. A comprehensive first aid kit in a waterproof container is strongly advisable. It can help solve minor accidents, and could prove invaluable while waiting for professional medics to arrive.

4. Marine VHF Radio

Being able to communicate at sea is essential. Many people rely on mobiles, but if they get wet, go over board or are out of signal, they are no use.  Use your VHF to listen in to the coastguard especially crowded waters and to communicate with other craft if you are unsure of their course.

Have a laminated sheet of your call sign, radio emergency procedures and phonetic alphabet on board.  Even the experts can forget the correct words in the heat of an incident.

5. Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is fitted as standard to all Ballistic RIBS. Ensure that all crew members know of its location and how to operate it.

6. Flares

Flares are an essential part of your safety equipment and will attract attention in an emergency situation. RIBS are very small compared to ships. If you are stuck with no power in a shipping lane you need to be seen.  Flares come as rocket, smoke or hand-held variety, and need to be stored in a dry container. Ensure you have the right type for your journey, coastal inshore or offshore.  Ensure you and your crew are familiar with how they are used.

7. Spare reading glasses

Keep a spare pair to hand on board, so you can read the instructions of the safety equipment in an emergency!

8. Lights

If you plan to be out at night be sure your boat is fitted with navigation lights to indicate your port and starboard sides and a white all-round light if your rib is under 12m.

A flood light is also useful if anchoring at night.  In the event of an emergency, such as a man overboard at night, you will also need a powerful, cordless search light to scan across the water.  If it is dark you will simply not see a person in the water.  Lightweight torches such the Exposure Lights marine torches are ideal for RIBS. They are USB rechargeable, and so do not need batteries either.

9. Other essential kit
  • anchor/chain/line
  • mooring lines
  • heaving lines
  • spare torch
  • exposure blanket
  • engine tool kit
  • spare VHF (handheld)
  • spare killcord
  • spare waterproof jacket

All the above boating kit can be found at any good chandlers.

10. Man Over Board (MOB) mobile alert APPs

It’s very normal to be concerned about ‘what if’ something goes wrong afloat.  If you lose someone overboard, or even lose track of a child on a busy beach! Now there are some very good low cost APPs which, when paired with a simple wrist tag, will trigger an instant alarm via your mobile that someone is overboard.  Systems like the OLAS Tag will also give the person left on board clear instructions how to return to the point of an incident. And, if you’ve gone blank in the panic (which we all do!) straight forward instructions on how to follow the full MOB procedure.