Drawing: Cobra helicopter Drawing: Cobra helicopter
Chapter 16 - Page 1



Perhaps the most difficult survival situation to be in is sea survival. Short-or long-term survival depends upon rations and equipment available and your ingenuity. You must be resourceful to survive.
Water covers about 75 percent of the earth's surface, with about 70 percent being oceans and seas. You can assume that you will sometime cross vast expanses of water. There is always the chance that the plane or ship you are on will become crippled by such hazards as storms, collision, fire, or war.


As a survivor on the open sea, you will face waves and wind. You may also face extreme heat or cold. To keep these environmental hazards from becoming serious problems, take precautionary measures as soon as possible. Use the available resources to protect yourself from the elements and from heat or extreme cold and humidity.

Protecting yourself from the elements meets only one of your basic needs. You must also be able to obtain water and food. Satisfying these three basic needs will help prevent serious physical and psychological problems. However, you must know how to treat health problems that may result from your situation.

Precautionary Measures

Your survival at sea depends upon —

When you board a ship or aircraft, find out what survival equipment is on board, where it is stowed, and what it contains. For instance, how many life preservers and lifeboats or rafts are on board? Where are they located? What type of survival equipment do they have? How much food, water, and medicine do they contain? How many people are they designed to support?

If you are responsible for other personnel on board, make sure you know where they are and they know where you are.

Down at Sea

If you are in an aircraft that goes down at sea, take the following actions once you clear the aircraft. Whether you are in the water or in a raft —

A search for survivors usually takes place around the entire area of and near the crash site. Missing personnel may be unconscious and floating low in the water. Figure 16-1 illustrates rescue procedures.

Drawing: Figure 16-1. Rescue from sea

The best technique for rescuing personnel from the water is to throw them a life preserver attached to a line. Another is to send a swimmer (rescuer) from the raft with a line attached to a flotation device that will support the rescuer's weight. This device will help conserve a rescuer's energy while recovering the survivor. The least acceptable technique is to send an attached swimmer without flotation devices to retrieve a survivor. In all cases, the rescuer wears a life preserver. A rescuer should not underestimate the strength of a panic-stricken person in the water. A careful approach can prevent injury to the rescuer.

When the rescuer approaches a survivor in trouble from behind, there is little danger the survivor will kick, scratch, or grab him. The rescuer swims to a point directly behind the survivor and grasps the life preserver's backstrap. The rescuer uses the sidestroke to drag the survivor to the raft.

If you are in the water, make your way to a raft. If no rafts are available, try to find a large piece of floating debris to cling to. Relax; a person who knows how to relax in ocean water is in very little danger of drowning. The body's natural buoyancy will keep at least the top of the head above water, but some movement is needed to keep the face above water.

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Updated: 12 January 2008
Born on 01 December 1999