rek giving ninj first aid, ninj says: ok, but i have no bones, or blood.

Most city-centers will have a hospital. Ones out in the islands—South Pacific for instance—tend to be good and cheap, but in most cases you must be self-sufficient. That includes a well-stocked medical supply, and the know-how to fix yourself up.

Before going offshore, if you can, we recommend doing a first-aid course. Knowing what to do in the event of severe bleeding, choking, or severe allergic reactions, could save your crew's life.

In a marine environment, it may not be possible for EMS personnel to come to your assistance in an emergency. You may need to contact a doctor and request advice on providing care, even if it is outside of your training. Read about calling for help on a boat. Document the doctor’s orders carefully.

You should prepare the following information and present it to the doctor:


photo of a rapid malaria test kit and the antimalarials malarone

If travelling into Malaria endemic areas, we carry rapid diagnostic tests. The test is 90% accurate and quickly diagnoses if Malaria is present, and if so, which one you have, so that treatment can commence quickly if needed. We relied on tests because we were close to hospitals, but if traveling to islands with no facilities it might be a good idea to also carry antimalarials (e.g., malarone).

For medicine like Malarone, it's important to start this medication 1-2 days before you enter the malarious area, to continue while in the area and for 7 days after leaving.

The best protection is prevention. Use screens on windows and doors, if you must go out in the evening or after a big rain wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and wear insect repellents that contain diethyltoluamide (DEET).

Malaria symptoms: fever, chills, headache, other flu-like symptoms.

See malaria information by country.


a jellyfish awash on a beach

Stings from marine life can range from painful, to life-threatening.

If stung by a jellyfish:

Seek medical attention if there is an infection, or if the person has trouble breathing. Always flush with vinegar FIRST, before removing any part of the animal, the tentacles can continue to fire even after they're detached so you must neutralize the poison before touching them or they could inject more poison into the person.


The following precautions will help prevent sunburns:

Take a cool shower to relieve pain. Treat mild to moderate sunburns with aloe vera gel. Apply it a few times a day to the sunburnt area.

If you have blisters, leave them. The liquid in the blisters will ensure that the skin heals well, while protecting it from infection. While the sunburn is healing, stay out of the sun, and keep the area covered if outside.


There are four levels of hypothermia, from mild to severe life-threatening symptoms:

Hypothermia happens faster in cold water than cold air. Cold-water immersion has four distinct phases:

If you are in OPEN WATER you can increase your survival time while waiting for rescue by doing the following:

Caring for hypothermia

Care for hypothermia varies depending on the severity of the symptoms mentioned earlier (cold stressed/not hypothermic, mild hypothermia, moderate hypothermia and severe hypothermia):


an illustration showing how to make a hypothermia wrap

Applying a hypothermia wrap, or hypothermia 'burrito', is an excellent way to reduce the heat lost by a person with hypothermia.

It consists of layering insulation and heat-reflecting material. If help is more than 30 minutes away (common on offshore boats), protect the person from the environment, remove the wet clothing and put them in a hypothermia wrap.

To apply a hypothermia wrap:


In case of a serious injury, you must have the means to get yourself to the nearest clinic. We use DAN Boater, a repatriation insurance that covers helicopter/transportation fees.


We find that medical apps for mobiles, and FM army field manuals, are helpful when dealing with minor burns, cuts and various aches. If you have a smart phone, the Canadian Red Cross app is free, works offline, and is very good.

We also recommend: