Cruise Ship Fire Highlights Need to Revisit Safety Issues
The recent tragedy onboard an Oceania Cruises ship in which three people lost their lives after an engine room fire took place while the ship was docked at Port Castries in St. Lucia brings to light the need for yet another discussion about cruise ship safety.
While it appears no passengers were injured by the fire, reports note that the three individuals who were killed were two contractors and a crew member.
The ship was in the midst of a 10-day cruise that was scheduled to end in Miami on Dec. 17. A representative with Oceania noted three contractors and two crew members were taken to a hospital, and one member of the crew remains hospitalized.
The incident on the Insignia is an unfortunate reminder for everyone who cruises to keep themselves as safe as possible. So how do you do that in the case of a ship fire? Being physically and mentally prepared to deal with onboard incidents can go a long way in saving your life in the case of an emergency.
Cruise ships carry thousands of people onboard, and their construction typically consists of several floors or levels, numerous rooms and long hallways. It is important for travelers to know what to do and where to go in case of a fire. You may want to ask ship personnel prior to the ship leaving port about any pamphlets or printed information they may have that can advise you on the steps to take in case of a fire or any other type of emergency.
Additionally, if you are provided with maps or floor-plan information that lays out escape routes and/or fire exits, you and your traveling companions should consider walking those routes. Take note of your stateroom’s location and the route you will take to reach safety. Consider what you will do if a fire breaks out at night and how you will handle the escape route in total darkness.
Thinking this way ahead of time might help you avoid a little bit of the normal panic and mayhem that usually occurs in emergency situations.
Cruises usually do an exercise at the beginning of the cruise that is designed to show passengers how to proceed quickly and safely in the event of an emergency. During the drills, passengers learn about the various escape routes on the ship as well as how to use the provided life vests.
While the drills may seem unnecessary and a disturbance to your vacation, practicing the steps you will take if something happens can be lifesaving. This drill is necessary, and you should participate.
If you’re a snacker, you will probably already have crackers, cookies, granola bars and chips in your bag anyway. But consider what would happen if the ship loses power because of a fire. The food supply may go bad very quickly, and the ship personnel may not have a way to cook meals. You may also want to consider packing bottled water in case the water supply is depleted.
Packing a smoke shield for each person in your group is not a bad idea if things get really bad. It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Also flashlights are a good idea.
Smartphone users might also consider downloading a free app that can help with safety matters. These safety apps can offer video, audio and documentation features in case an accident were to occur. This can be very beneficial if you are to take any legal action after the fact or even to make a personal note for medical reasons. If you do not have a smartphone you should consider keeping other helpful items with you. A notepad can come in handy to record important information to report after your cruise. A camera could be used for photos or video and you may already be bringing this on board to take pictures while on your trip.
Fires and other incidents onboard ships can be devastating to passengers and ship personnel. All of these tips can even come in handy for other incidents that may occur while on board other than a fire. Staying informed and prepared for various scenarios can help ease everyone’s anxiety during such trying times.
Charles Lipcon is the founding maritime lawyer of Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman. Lipcon has handled personal injury, cruise line sexual assault and wrongful-death claims for over 40 years.
This article was originally posted on The Daily Business Review.