Safety Concerns for Sailors

The three major safety risks on Lake Burley Griffin are hypothermia, dehydration and physical injuries.



Hypothermia is a critical lowering of body temperature caused by exposure to cold, wet and windy conditions. Hypothermia can easily occur in the middle of summer if sailors are wearing little clothing. It is most likely to occur when the wind increases beyond the skill level of the crew causing the boat to capsize and preventing the crew from returning to shore. This leaves sailors out on the water for longer than they intended exposed to water and wind chill. It can be prevented by…

  • Wearing appropriate wet weather gear such as a wetsuit and spray jacket. It is easier to cool off than warm up so dress warmer than the conditions.
  • Returning to shore as soon as you start to feel cold or weather conditions begin to deteriorate.
  • Checking weather reports and keeping a good lookout for changing weather conditions.


Dehydration is where blood volume decreases due to insufficient drinking of water. In sailing it usually occurs on hot days with little wind but can occur in any conditions. Dehydration can easily be prevented by…

  • Drinking water before and after you go sailing.
  • Drinking water before you start to feel thirsty and whenever your urine is a yellow colour rather than clear.

Physical Injuries

Physical injuries especially head injuries are more dangerous for Sailors since unconsciousness may lead to drowning. The risk can be reduced by…

  • Wearing a PFD (lifejacket) so that you will float despite any injuries you may suffer. Note that a PFD2 (as used in sailing) is designed to keep an unconscious casualty afloat but not to keep their head above water.
  • Sailing with friends so that somebody can help if something goes wrong.
  • Remembering to duck your head whenever you tack or gybe and calling out "Tacking" or "Gybing" so that your crew is ready to duck their heads.
  • Ensuring that you have properly rigged the boat and it is in good working order.
    Key Tag Version to be attached to keys.