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Coast Guard: Safety Maneuvers Critical In Cruise Ship Disasters

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Normally, those about to embark on a cruise line vacation are bombarded with safety information the moment they walk onto the ship.

There are laws that demand it, but in the case of the Costa Concordia that was one of the rare instances where passengers said, they were mostly on their own when it was time to abandon ship.

Some passengers were so terrified; they even jumped overboard into the Mediterranean.  But even without direction – the Coast Guard demonstrates there are a few things you could learn that could save your life. Most importantly, if the crew’s giving directions, listen. Remember, jumping over board is only done in extreme cases and there is a correct method to it.

“You cross your legs,” explained Michael Irigoyen from the U.S. Coast Guard.  “You secure these appendages nice and tight to your body, you cross your arms, you hold one hand over your shoulder here and you cover your face, securing your body, creating a pencil, if you will.”

“When you get into the water, you assume the H.E.L.P. position, the ‘Heat Escape Lessening Position’. Tuck in all of your appendages and maintain your core temperature by keeping everything close together,” said Irigoyen.

Experts also suggest if you’re in the water, look for something to float on.

“If there’s something that you see that can hold your body above the water it’s important to get on it,” Irigoyen explained. “You want to keep as much of your body out of the water to prevent hypothermia from setting in.  It also makes you a bigger target. It’s easier for our helicopters to see you.”

Another suggestion, when you first get into your stateroom, turn the light off, then in the dark try to put on your life vest.  Experts say it is good practice in case the ship loses power during an emergency.

“The most important advice I can give is stay on the boat, unless directed otherwise,” says Irigoyen. “Listen to the direction of the cruise ship personal.  It’s unlikely they’ll ask you to jump overboard.”

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