TRAVEL SMARTER: Be Prepared with a Go Bag


There has been much discussion in the dive industry about incidents and accidents that require emergency exits from liveaboards. While we understand emergencies are possible, we will continue to travel on liveaboards, so we should be prepared for the unexpected.

If an alarm sounds in the middle of the night, the traveler should exit as quickly as possible. Doing so requires knowing your exit path, even if there are no lights, and not slowing down for anything.

During the boat briefing the dive operator should discuss the various exits, especially those in the sleeping spaces. It isn’t enough to just listen to the briefing — you should find the exits. They are often hidden in a closet or bathroom, so you need to know what they look like and how to operate the latches or knobs.

If an alarm is going off, but you don’t see or smell smoke, you may be tempted to grab your daily medicine, glasses, or passport instead of exiting immediately. But in a liveaboard fire or other incident, every second matters. Even if you don’t smell smoke, something may be happening that will block your exit.

It’s a good idea to keep a small go bag by your bed so you waste no time looking for essential items. You can keep your necessary medications, glasses, contacts, passport and travel documents, credit cards, and phone in it, along with a waterproof flashlight and a whistle. 

A few specific features will make your go bag the most effective. It must be small (no larger than 2 liters) so it doesn’t impede your exit. A solid clip lets you attach it to your belt loop or lifejacket so your hands remain free. A drybag will float and keep medications and documents dry. A brightly colored bag will be easier to find if you lose it.

Every night at bedtime, put any items you have used back in the bag and keep it closed and sealed. If there is an emergency, you quickly grab the bag and go, thus saving time by avoiding the temptation to stay and look for critical items. 

An emergency evacuation is never expected but always a possibility. Knowing the exits and having a go bag with important necessities are crucial parts of being prepared to exit a liveaboard. 

© Alert Diver — Q1 2024