Most people have considered what their chances would be if they ever became stranded out at sea, usually before some kind of boat journey in a country where health and safety is not so high on the list of priorities when operating a boating service for passengers.
So, with that in mind and about to embark on a journey in India where the chance of a boat trip is quite high, I thought I would do a little research and publish my findings about how to survive in the ocean if you find yourself lost at sea!
Take a Breath and Relax…
It’s the most commonly known piece of advice but often the least often implemented. You must remain as calm as possible. Panicking will not help at all. You should look around, see what the situation is and think about your best course of action. The next things you should do as as follows:
- Stay afloat
- Create/build a shelter to guard against the sun
- Decide if you think rescue will be on its way
- Look for sources of food and water
- Staying alive
- Getting rescued
Let’s take a closer look some of these points.
1. Staying Afloat
The first thing you need to do is make sure you can find something to get onto, such as a life raft or failing that any kind of debris that floats and you can hold onto. Anything is better than nothing and being stranded without a raft makes life a lot harder.
However, if you do find yourself without any kind of raft there are two techniques to use to conserve energy:
1. Float on your back in a star shape when the water is calm. This will conserve energy and if you can’t see land then you are going to have difficulty swimming for it and you would run out of energy. Stay floating and hope rescue arrives or you float towards land
2. If the sea is rough you should lie face down in the water and exhale when you are face down.
Then bring your head up to take a breath when you need to. Lying face down and exhaling underwater will help to relax you as you are not so aware of the water splashing over your face.
Your second task is to try and create some kind of shelter for yourself to safe-guard against the sun and adverse weather. If you have a life boat you are OK because it should have sides and you can sit inside. If it’s cold this will help keep you warm and if it’s hot in the day this should help protect you from the sun.
Decide if you think you should just stay put and wait for rescue or make more of an effort to find your way to land. If you are in a more developed country it is likely that you are going to have a search party out looking for you very quickly. If not, then you should consider you options for finding land.
4. Food and Water
It’s really important to locate water ASAP because you can’t survive long without it. Ideally you would find some kind of floating water bottles full of water but that’s a bit of a long shot…So, you have a few options
Recycled Water – Your own urine can be used as a water source. It’s not pleasant but in a life of death situation you have to do whatever you need to. However, this is not a great option and should only be used as a last resort because it can cause more severe hydration due to the salts in it.
Rain Water – Catch as much of it as you can because it’s a great source of water. After catching it, try to keep a lid or cover over it to prevent it from evaporating.
Fishy Fluids – Fish are good for eating and hydrating. If you cut one open and drink from the spine area, eyes and flesh you should get some much needed fluids.
Sea Water – Most people recommend against this as it is so salty but it is an option if you have nothing else. Some people argue that the body is able to survive on salt water from the ocean.
Fish – As mentioned already fish are a great source of food. If you don’t have any water, though, eating might not be such a good idea as it requires water to digest. Only eat when you absolutely need to. You can last a long time without food.
5. Staying Alive
If you are in waters where there are predators like sharks you need to be careful not to release any blood into the water because they will sense it from many miles away and come to see what they can find. Try to stay away from the water if you have any kind of open wound.
6. Getting Rescued
You should try to do as much as possible to make yourself visible from the air if you think they will be searching for you. Any kind of flare gun or bright colured material should be kept ready to wave and use when appropriate.
Images courtesy of Salvatore Vuono, cbenjasuwan and bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net