What to Do When There’s a Water Emergency


Boating on Lake Coeur d’Alene is one of the best things to do this summer. With over 100 miles of shoreline to explore, there is bound to be something fun for everyone to enjoy!

However, there are always dangers you should keep an eye out for when boating on the lake. Most people will have a wonderful time on the water, but there is always the possibility that you may experience an emergency.

What should you do when there’s an emergency on the water? Keep reading below as we discuss the answer in depth.

Water emergencies

There are many different types of emergencies that you could experience while out on the water. Below are the top four that you may experience most often.

Water injuries

Common injuries that are reported while boating include cuts, scrapes, concussions, and broken bones. These can be caused in numerous ways.

Cuts and scrapes are common when walking on slippery surfaces like the deck of the boat, and when swimming around boat engines.

On the other hand, more serious injuries like concussions and broken bones can occur when practicing water sports like wake boarding and tubing.

Water medical emergencies

Water medical emergencies are serious and can vary widely. A few of the most common medical emergencies are asthma attacks, heart attacks, heat stroke, and drowning.

Heat stroke is common, especially when temps reach triple digits. However, the CDC states that accidental drowning is the leading cause of death in water, especially among children. Asthma and heart attacks are much less common but still do occur, especially in young children or older adults.

Boating accidents

When the lake is busy, it can feel like there are boats everywhere you turn. With the increased amount of traffic comes the increased likelihood of boating accidents.

Boating accidents can be caused by many factors. A few of the most common include low visibility, excessive speed, and alcohol influence.

No matter how minor or serious a collision may be, all accidents need to be reported to the authorities for safety.

Inclement weather

Lake Coeur d’Alene is known for beautiful weather, so inclement weather is rare on a summer day. It does happen though, with rain and thunderstorms occasionally moving in quickly.

High winds can cause choppy weather, which can cause stability issues for a boat and safety concerns for passengers.

Calling emergency personnel

If you experience any type of emergency on the water, calling emergency personnel is crucial. Don’t be afraid of them – police and EMTs are not there to get you in trouble. They are there to keep you safe and help you when you’re in need.

Dial 911

The first step in any emergency is to dial 911 immediately. Luckily, Lake Coeur d’Alene has pretty good cell service so reaching authorities should not be a problem. They will be able to communicate with any police that is patrolling the lake and also contact the hospital and EMTs on land.

Ask for help

If, for some reason, you are not able to dial 911 while on the lake, ask for help from passerby. Flag down other boaters with bright colors, whistles, air horns, or anything else on board you can use. Ask them to try calling, and if no one can, then send them to land to ask for help there.

You should also be aware of the United States Coast Guard’s recommended visual distress signals as well as marine radios.

Visual distress signals include signal flags that represent the universal signal for emergency. You can also use orange flares during the day or red flares at night.

Marine radios, on the other hand, are great for communicating in bad reception areas. They are really easy to use, have better service than most cell phones, and can withstand bad weather. They also do not require a license to use, so anyone can have one on a boat.

First aid

While waiting for emergency personnel, you may need to provide first aid. If a passenger is in serious condition and you are on the phone with 911, they will be able to walk you through proper care until professionals arrive.

If you are not in touch with authorities, then you need to be prepared to offer first aid until they arrive.

Pack a medical kit

Always have a full medical kit with you on board. This kit should include things such as bandaids, compression pads, wraps, ointments, aspirin, etc. Also include any specific medications that may be needed, like epi pens, antibiotics, or prescriptions.


In addition to carrying a full medical kit, several people on board should know how to perform proper CPR. This will come in handy in the case of drownings or heart attacks.

Here is a link that will show you how to perform CPR. If you are on the phone with emergency personnel, they’ll be able to walk you through it, too.

Boat Safely

And there you have it! You now know what to do when you experience an emergency on the water.

Boating safety is incredibly important. Planning for any potential emergency beforehand will ensure that you’re prepared for anything when it happens.

Are you looking for a great place to rent a boat for some fun on the lake? If so, look no further than Resort Boat Rentals on the Coeur d’Alene Resort. We offer pontoon boat rentals, speed boat rentals and paddleboard rentals, and more!

Give us a call today. We’ll make sure you’re boating safely this summer, and having a great time doing it!