One of the most dangerous things that can happen on any boat -- a ferry, a barge, a cruise ship, a ski boat or anything else -- is when someone goes overboard. Even when the boat is not traveling at a very substantial speed, it can be all but impossible for the person to keep up, and that's just if they were not injured in the fall.
This is why people who fall off of cruise ships are often lost at sea. By the time someone sounds the alarm, and they get the boat turned around, a poor swimmer could already have gone under. Even a strong swimmer will be dozens or hundreds of meters behind the boat, and he or she could be impossible to locate quickly.
The best way to prevent these types of deadly accidents, then, is to keep them from happening in the first place. Any time you are on a boat, you should:
- Keep your distance from any exposed edges
- Stay in the center of the boat or as close as possible
- On smaller craft, try to stay low to keep your balance and widen your stance
- Whenever you are moving about the boat, try to keep three points of contact at all times
- Never drive through corners at an aggressive speed
- Watch out for the wake that other boats may leave around your craft, which can make for a choppy ride
- Wear your life jacket and a whistle
- Try to even out the weight within the boat if there are multiple people
These tips can help prevent an incident or keep you safe if one happens, but there's never any guarantee. If you get injured or lose a loved one in an accident, make sure you know about all of your legal options.