Ditch Bag Essentials | Boating Magazine
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Ditch Bag Essentials

What to have if you have to abandon ship.

Ditch Bag Essentials

Ditch bags are meant to be grabbed on the way overboard. Keep your emergency gear stocks in prime condition with these items. -Capt. Vincent Daniello

Ditch Bag Essentials

Mug
A flexible cup makes a great bailer for ridding the life raft of water. It can also come in handy for sharing water or cooling yourself or a crew member. This one is sold as a baby bath rinser at amazon.com.

Ditch Bag Essentials

Whistle
A whistle makes a piercing sound that humans can’t ignore. It also allows you to “cry help” for much longer than you could with your voice. This one from Storm is a great one. stormwhistles.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Sam Splint
Fix fractures like the Navy SEALs do. This flexible, portable splint is a go-to device for EMS, police, fire and military rescue personnel. Add it to your kit. sammedical.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Camera
A camera, like this Pentax Optio, allows you to keep records for posterity and to illustrate that great rescue novel you’ll write after being saved. It represents future activity and so raises spirits. pentaxwebstore.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Knife
A knife can kill or cut a fish or bird to eat; cut lines and bandages; and ­perform myriad survival tasks. No well-found ditch bag should be without a knife like this one. Bright orange handle is easy to see. spyderco.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Duct Tape
Accept no substitute. This Duck brand waterproof duct tape makes a sling, or any one of several bandage types, when combined with a shredded shirt or rag. Don’t leave port without it. duckbrand.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Sharpie Marker
Pen the notes for the best-selling novel you’ll write after rescue. Play games with your crew. Either way you can keep spirits up and thoughts on the future with a means to write. sharpie.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Flares
When rescuers are close enough that you can see them, light these flares to help them zero in on your location. You won’t have time to grab your “boat” flares; stock your ditch bag with its own flares. orionsignals.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Sunscreen
Comfort, and your ability to perform, go hand in hand. Make sure you don’t get sunburn — apply sunscreen with a high SPF rating to ­yourself and your crew. coppertone.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Dye Marker
A dye marker stains the water and aids daytime rescue by remaining readily visible to aircraft. Dye will also show rescuers the ­direction of current and where you might have drifted. orionsignals.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Sunglasses
Spot planes, boats and helicopters with greater ease. Avoid headaches and remain more comfortable and, thus, better able to assist in your own survival and rescue with polarized shades. mauijim.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Smoke
Orion’s hand-held smoke flare makes you visible in broad daylight. Its easily identifiable signal attracts attention and helps nearby rescuers home in on your location. USCG-Approved for daytime use. orionsignals.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Flashlight
Find the gear, perform first aid in the dark, or signal rescuers with a rugged, waterproof flashlight like this one from Streamlight. LED lamps mean reliable, long-burnIng light. streamlight.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Eyeglasses
Whether a spare pair of “cheaters” or your actual ­prescription specs, being able to read medication directions, VHF and GPS screens, and more can prove valuable during an emergency.

Ditch Bag Essentials

Streamer
This see/rescue streamer is always working. It shows drift direction and, unlike your head, is easily spotted in the ocean from a
helicopter. It’s even lighted. rescuestreamer.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Cord
Secure flotsam, such as coolers, cushions or other useful detritus, together. You can also tie yourself and your crew together so that you don’t drift apart while in the water. gorillaparacord.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Signal Mirror
I’m here! A signal mirror is one of the best pieces of safety equipment. It requires no batteries and it’s waterproof. But make sure you practice with it. Aiming one is not as easy as it seems. acrartex.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Fire Starter
If stranded ashore, even at night on an island close to shore, the ability to keep warm could save your life. rei.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Water
Hydrate with water. These drinking water packages are lighter than bottles. The experts claim you should have at least one liter of water per person per day for survival. esafetysupplies.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

PLB
Personal locator beacons like this ACR Rescue Link make sure that rescue teams can pinpoint the location of a survivor with accuracy and depend­ability. Get an EPIRB for the boat and a PLB for each crew member. acrartex.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

VHF Radio
Talk to rescuers with this Standard Horizon HX851 waterproof, floating VHF and GPS with DSC and water-activated strobe light. It has all the features a rescue-oriented VHF should have. standardhorizon.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Batteries
Keep a spare battery tray for your VHF radio handy in the ditch bag. Some radios use a dedicated battery while others use conventional batteries in a tray like this one from standard Horizon. standardhorizon.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Life Savers
Quick energy and the ability to “wet one’s whistle” without the need to consume precious fresh water are practical reasons to stock your ditch bag with this candy. Keeping up spirits is another. life-savers.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Strobe Light
This ACR Firefly strobe light gets noticed. It runs for up to 56 hours on regular alkaline batteries and is bright enough to cut through the foulest conditions. Ideally, have one per crew member. acrartex.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Laser Flare
Signal rescue teams from up to 30 miles away with this green rescue laser from Greatland. This laser flare is waterproof and runs for 40 hours on its lithium battery. greatlandlaser.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Space Blanket
Provide warmth for injured crew members who may be in shock or warmth to ward off hypothermia. A blanket can be rigged as a ­sunshade, and the silver side could signal rescuers in a pinch. amazon.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Parachute Flares
Find me! Parachute flares signal the need for help from a long way off — they send your message over the horizon. Those that meet SOLAS approval, like this one from Orion, are best. westmarine.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Hand Wipes
Fight bacteria before applying bandages to a wound. Wash your hands before eating something. Cool the forehead of an injured and feverish crew member. Do all this and save water. wetones.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Zip Ties
Secure almost anything with these waterproof, super-strong ties. From PFD repairs to “MacGyver-style” bandage creation, your ditch bag should not be without zip ties. westmarine.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Self-Adherent Wrap
Coban self-adherent wrap from 3M is the choice of emergency rescue personnel. It functions like a tape but sticks only to itself. A versatile bandage product in a variety of widths and colors. 3M.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Light Stick
Whether signaling your presence to potential rescuers or lighting the way to tie a cravat knot while making a sling for the broken arm of an injured crew member, Cyalume light sticks are great. cyalume.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Satellite Communicator
Text from anywhere worldwide. The ability not only to send location info, but also to actually communicate with rescuers, makes the Delorme inReach SE a unique device. delorme.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

AIS Beacon
Be seen on the screen! The McMurdo S20 AIS MOB will transmit position information and a serialized identity number enabling quick location and recovery. mcmurdomarine.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Spare Key
Look beyond rescue and keep a spare key for your vehicle in your vessel’s ditch bag. It helps to keep a good attitude, and a good attitude is “key,” according to rescue professionals. Visit your car dealer.

Ditch Bag Essentials

Shears
Cutting up food into rations, cutting up clothing or cloth to make bandages and cutting sutures, fishing line or other items can be performed with rugged shears like these. Cheap but effective. amazon.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Flare Pistol
Hey! Here! This 25 MM flare pistol comes as a kit with both aerial and hand-held flares in a weatherproof case. Fires signals to an altitude of 375 feet and is USCG-approved for day and night use. westmarine.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Compass
Know your direction of drift and be able to provide this information to rescuers if contact is made. Perhaps you can use your knowledge to anticipate washing ashore. The Small compass is fine. ritchienavigation.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Sponge
Treat fever by swabbing a sweaty crew member. Bail the last little puddle out of the raft so you can sleep. It’s light and it’s cheap, and it can come in handy for first aid as well. Pick one up next time you go shopping.

Ditch Bag Essentials

Watch
Check the pulse rate of injured crew members. Record time in your rescue log. Time the period between radio transmissions. A cheap one will do. Just make sure it’s waterproof. amazon.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Meteor Flares
Yo! Yo! Yo! Here I am. Meteor flares grab attention in a unique way. These are USCG-approved for both day and night use. They put out 16,000 candlepower of light. Available in a four-pack. westmarine.com

Ditch Bag Essentials

Warm Clothing
Hypothermia prevention is necessary even in warm climates. You can change into a water-wicking polypropylene shirt in the raft, ashore, or at an offshore buoy. amazon.com

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