Emergency Procedures for Ships


Should the need to initiate emergency procedures, while aboard a ship, arise, it is important for every crew member to know the proper emergency protocol. These procedures apply not only to professional sailors or military personnel but should be observed by anyone who owns or operates a boat.

General Alarm

  • When an emergency situation presents itself, the first action is to sound a general alarm. The standard protocol for a general alarm at sea is to sound the ship's horn for seven short blasts followed by one prolonged blast. This procedure is typically understood to indicate to both crew members and other nearby ships that an emergency is taking place.

Evacuation Procedures

  • Following the alarm, all crew members must equip themselves with life jackets and move to their assigned emergency stations. The ship's engine should be shut off at this point. The procurement of life rafts or inflation of lifeboats should be the crew's top priority. All crew members should assume full responsibility for evacuating and accounting for each crewman or passenger during the evacuation. The primary goal in any emergency should be the prompt and safe evacuation of all personnel and passengers.

Distress Call

  • Crew members should attempt to establish contact with other ships or nearby facilities in order to administer a distress call indicating the need for emergency assistance. An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) should be activated to enable emergency crews or rescue workers to locate the ship and its surviving crew members.

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  • Photo Credit ship image by Katarzyna Szura from Fotolia.com
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