Maritime safety (recreational craft)

Maritime safety (recreational craft)

  • Wear a lifejacket, wear warm clothes.
  • Call for help, make yourself known.
  • If the craft remains afloat, do not jump into the water.
  • Follow the instructions of the master or rescuers.

Danger signs

  • The craft is submerged and the water level is rising.
  • The craft is heeling* and not regaining balance.
  • Smoke is coming from the craft or a burning smell can be smelled.
  • A person has fallen overboard into the water.

* Heeling - a leaning of the craft to one side, which may be caused by misplaced cargo or by water entering the craft.

How can you be prepared for an emergency at sea?

  • Wear a life jacket when going to sea.
  • Keep your phone in your pocket, charged and in a waterproof bag.
  • Check the safety instructions on board the boat.
  • Find out where lifesaving equipment is and how to use it.
  • Know how to call for help if you are in distress at sea.
  • Download the national weather app ILM+ to keep up to date with weather conditions.

How to call for help at sea?

By radio station:

  •  VHF channel 16 - in case of emergency, use MAYDAY message

- It can be heard by other ships at sea and all shore stations.

- Anyone can use the marine radio to call for help!

The call sign of JRCC Tallinn: TALLINN RESCUE.

By phone:

  • JRCC Tallinn: +372 619 1224.
  •  Or by emergency number 112 > the call will be transferred to JRCC Tallinn.

In the emergency message say:

- the name of the vessel in distress;

- the location of the casualty as precisely as possible;

- description of the incident;

- whether there are any injured persons or a risk to life;

- what assistance is needed.

Signal S.O.S.:

  • fog horn or other sound device
  • flashlight or other light source

Sounders and waterproof torches are required on all recreational craft.

• • • – – – • • • Three short, three long, three short sound or light signals.

Hand signal:

  • Slowly and repeatedly raise and lower your arms outstretched to each side
  • When in line of sight with shore personnel, rescuers, other watercraft or aircraft.

All distress signals used at sea


What to do in an emergency?

  • Notify the master or crew immediately if you see any danger signs.
  • Stay on board the craft as long as possible.
  • If you have to evacuate from the craft, put on a life jacket, extra clothing and a hat.
  • Follow the master's instructions.
  • Make yourself visible or audible to rescuers - use bright clothing, coloured fabric on the water surface or on the craft, use the torch, fog horn or whistle.

If you fall overboard:

  • Keep calm, regain your breathing.
  • Stay still (don't scramble and don't swim unless there is something floating nearby). It's important to keep your energy up.
  • In the fetal position (HELP), you maintain body heat and energy. Most heat is released through the head, groin and armpits.
  • When several people are in the water, gather in a group (HUDDLE) and hold on to each other, with the weakest person(s) in the middle of the group.
  • If a larger floating object is available, hold on to it - it will be easier to find you.
  • Use the whistle on the lifejacket to signal the rescuers.
  • If the craft turns around and heads towards you, don't swim towards it, stay still.
  • When the rescuers reach you, follow their instructions.


If you see an accident at sea as a bystander:

A single red rocket slowly descending over the sea.

- At sea, a red rocket means distress.

- A signal rocket with a parachute is visible for 40 km, burns for 40 seconds as it falls.

- Specify the direction from which the rocket may have been fired - compass points, direction relative to land objects or your own position.

- Report the sighting to JRCC Tallinn (phone 6191224 or 112);

- Observe for possible distress, other light or sound signals;

- If possible, stay on the scene until the rescuers arrive to direct them;

- Follow the instructions given by JRCC Tallinn.

A person fell overboard:

- Throw into the water items with positive buoyancy that will help the person to stay afloat and mark the location - a life jacket, life ring, rescue sling or fenders.

- Announce the incident with a loud voice or sound (whistle, fog horn, other sound device) so that the master and passengers can hear.  in this situation, three long beeps are used.

- Throughout the rescue manoeuvre, keep track of the person who has fallen into the water and continuously indicate to the crew by hand which direction he is facing, unless the master has given other instructions.

- Follow the master's instructions.

- If you are left alone on board, call for help immediately.

- When rescuing someone who has fallen into the water, first ensure your own safety - wear a lifejacket, use a safety harness to secure yourself to the vessel, brief others about your actions.

- Safety and rescue equipment is used for rescue, going in the water yourself is a last option.

- If necessary, start giving first aid to the rescued person.

Hypothermia, first aid:

- Give the victim dry clothes and a warm hat, cover him/her warmly.

- If the victim is conscious, offer a warm drink (not a hot drink and not alcohol!).

- Keep the victim lying down, move them as little as possible.

- Avoid raising his limbs above his heart.

- If the hands are cold, insulate them from the victim's body.

- Keep in constant contact with him/her, monitor the condition until help arrives.

- In case of loss of consciousness, make sure the victim's airway is open.

Good to know!

Life jacket:

- turns you on your back in the water and the collar supports your head to prevent water from entering the airways.

- has a high buoyancy (from 100 N).

- keeps you afloat for at least 24 hours.

- has a collar, reflectors, whistle and light.

Safety jacket (also sports jacket):

- is used for water sports.

- is an aid to staying afloat but does not turn you backwards in the water.

- is intended for short stays in the water.

- is without a collar and has a lower buoyancy (50 N).

Marine radio:

- VHF channel 16 is used for distress, urgency and safety working and voice calling. It is monitored by all vessels at sea and shore stations.

- The network of marine radio stations covers the Estonian maritime area.

- Maritime radio messages that are always worth listening to:

o MAYDAY: distress signal - help needed.

o PAN-PAN: urgency message - no immediate danger, red flare is reported, search is underway, etc.

o SECURITÈ: warning message - storm warning, important navigational message, vessel is unable to manoeuvre, etc.


- Small craft are equipped with red signal rockets and hand flares,

- Pyrotechnics are used in emergency situations only,

- The pyrotechnic shell has instructions which must be strictly followed,

 NOTE: Signal rockets burn for a long time and can reach temperatures of up to 2000 degrees Celsius.