Man-overboard protection continues during COVID-19 crisis

Man-Overboard incidents continue, so we are continuing operations

We hope that you and your teams are healthy and safe.

On March 22, 2020, Washington Governor Insley issued Proclamation 20-25 requiring Washitonians to stay at home, closing specified retail businesses, and requiring social distancing measures and other restrictions. We want to let you know that Emerald Marine Products is not included in the list of businesses prohibited from operating.

Emerald Marine Products’ diverse customer base in marine transportation, commercial fishing, water rescue personnel, and terminal services qualifies us as an Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. The Man-Overboard Alerting devices we provide to our customers are critical for maintaining the continuity of safety products to Critical Infrastructure Sectors as defined by Homeland Security and CISA.

Now might be a good time to inspect your ALERT Transmitters

Occasionally we receive ALERT Transmitters to inspect and repair. We are pleased to see well-worn transmitters. It shows that they are being used in heavy industrial applications protecting employees. It also shows the reliability of our man-overboard transmitters, as some of these transmitters are in their fifth or sixth or even longer year of service.

If your company is experiencing a slow-down due to the Coronavirus, or weather, this might be a great time to inspect your ALERT Man-Overboard Alerting products to make sure they are functioning properly. For testing procedures and other important videos on maintaining your ALERT products, click here.

This may also be a good time to make sure the batteries in the unit are at the voltage they should be. For ALERT2 Transmitters make sure the unit has 3.6-volt lithium batteries. Never put 1.5-volt Alkaline batteries in the unit. The alkaline batteries may produce enough power to provide a positive test of the unit but do not provide the needed voltage for transmission strength and longevity. For proper placement of batteries for ALERT2 Transmitters, click here.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us with questions and to communicate any impacts this situation may be having on your operations.


Coronavirus and Emerald Marine Products

The maritime industry is grappling with safety issues never imagined a few months ago. We are already witnessing the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) on world trade, international travel, and our economy. Emerald Marine Products, like all of our industry partners, take the impact of Coronavirus very seriously. As a manufacturer of man-overboard alerting devices, we are ensuring that our manufacturing supply chain and distribution are operating in accordance with the CDC. More than ever, as crews are limited and people are social distancing, we need to ensure that every person working near or on the water is protected in the event of a fall overboard.

Emerald Marine Products is working with our suppliers and testing stations to ensure all products are sanitized. Our preferred shipping vendor, United Parcel Service (UPS) had also written of their continued efforts to make sure products shipped through their service are compliant with procedures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. You can view UPS response here: click here.

Emerald Marine Products is aware that the current situation of the Coronavirus has the full attention of a company’s Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) department. We recognize the main concern of these departments is keeping employees healthy and having evacuation procedures in place in the event a crew member becomes sick on a vessel. We would like to recommend a variety of resources to support your organizations:

For the most up-to-date information regarding Coronavirus and the maritime industry, we suggest visiting the American Waterways Operators (AWO) Coronavirus (COVID-19) website: https://www.americanwaterways.com/covid19.

Another great source for HSE Departments is Fusion Technology’s Pandemic Plan Template which steps through the various stages and processes to monitor and have in place procedures to protect your employees:https://www.pandemicreadinesstoolkit.fusionrm.com/s/.

In response to the current COVID-19 crisis, Emerald Marine Products wants to assure our current customers and other companies doing more with less, that we are staffed and supplied to support your man-overboard alerting needs quickly and efficiently. At this time of social distancing and less staff, We urge you to ensure your employees are protected in the event of a fall overboard. Emerald Marine Products is committed to working as quickly as possible to find solutions for your crew members and shore side workers to be protected and safe.  Setup and procedures for our ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System are quick and easy. We are available to assist with any questions you might have about our fall overboard alerting devices, training dummies and MOB retrieval products. Further information on our life-saving products can be found at www.emeraldmarineproducts.com.

As the Coronavirus impact changes daily, we are all working to mitigate the further spread of this virus, protecting our employees and our way of doing business. The Maritime industry is vital to the health of our country and international trade. We are proud of the hard work maritime companies, and their most valuable asset, their employees are accomplishing to keep our economy strong during these unsettled times. We at Emerald Marine Products are grateful for the industry’s efforts and hope to be of continued service protecting employees from fall overboard fatalities through this crisis and for years to come. Plan, protect, stay safe.


Smart Phone App usage at sea

Are App-Based Alarms Reliable for Man-Overboard Rescue?

Fall overboard (FOB) occurrences are much more common than we would like to believe. A simple trip on the deck or dock, excessive speed, or even a storm can cause people to fall off the boat. The problem is that within seconds, the fall overboard victim can drift at least 100 feet from the boat, making it difficult to find the person who fell overboard. It is critical to wear a PFD, but just as important is to invest in an alarm to notify the boat and crew of the man-overboard for immediate rescue. This testimonial highlights how fast a fall overboard can happen.

As the reliance on our smartphones continues to increase, so does the usage of apps as utilities and even man-overboard alarms. Over the last 3 years, several apps have been created to serve as man-overboard alarms. These apps rely on Bluetooth technology to notify the app of a loss signal i.e. man-overboard and trigger an alarm on the phone. I decided to do a little research to better understand the reliability of these apps as a man-overboard alarm. I summarized my learnings below. Although an app can appear cheap and easy to use, there are a lot of variables to manage – fully charged phone battery, open application, phone/tablet readily available, reliable Bluetooth connection, and more. In conclusion, when it comes to boat safety and preventing needless man-overboard injuries and fatalities, it is worth it to invest in an alarm system that you can set and forget.

Connection Reliability and False Alarms

These app-based systems trigger an alarm when the beacons or devices worn by the person lose connection with the phone app. This connection is relying on Bluetooth. Unfortunately, Bluetooth on a good day has a range of about 150 feet and can be much less on a phone. This reliability on Bluetooth on a boat has resulted in triggering many false alarms. The person wearing the beacon may just be going down to the galley of the boat, lose Bluetooth connection, and then the app triggers the man-overboard alarm. These false alarm triggers can become exhausting to manage and even result in losing trust in the application, never knowing if the alarm is indicating a real man-overboard situation or just another false alarm. When it comes to investing in a man-overboard alarm, it is critical to have a system in place that you can trust the connection, signal, and viability of the alert to be able to respond immediately.

Charged Phone or Tablet Battery and Battery Consumption

Reliance on an app also means that you are reliant on your phone or tablet. Unfortunately, this means that your phone needs to be fully charged, readily available, and most likely connected to power as the Bluetooth will quickly drain battery life on the device. The reality is that most people don’t have a fully charged device on hand. If the device is charged, it will not stay charged for long, in which case it needs to be connected to a power source and therefore not as readily available in case of a fall overboard emergency.

Software and Hardware Compatibility

Most of these app-based systems require your smartphone or tablet to have Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. They also have hardware requirements i.e. iPhone/iPad 5 or later. Hardware and software systems are constantly evolving, which may require investments in hardware and software on a more regular basis to ensure that the app can be used.

Phone or Tablet Location and Availability

The reliance on the app’s device may require a dedicated tablet or phone just for this app-based man-overboard alarm system. We are used to living with our phones tethered to our bodies – in our pockets, hands, and sometimes we even forget where we leave them. This app will not be effective if it is in the man overboard’s pocket or somewhere else on the boat that is not easily accessible.

Alarm System Setup and Pairing Devices to the App

As easy as it can be to download an app to a tablet or smartphone, it can still be challenging to pair the man-overboard beacons to the app. Some of the forums that I came across indicated that it was sometimes very challenging to pair the beacons to the app.

When it comes to man-overboard safety, it is critical to know that the connection between the transmitter or beacon and the receiver or app is reliable and constant. When it comes to setting up any system, ease-of-setup is essential and the ALERT Transmitter and Receiver are created to automatically connect and maintain that connection at all times.

Fall-Overboard Rescue

When it comes to an actual fall overboard situation, it is critical that the alarm immediately alerts the crew and that there is a way to locate the man-overboard person. Some of these apps can take 5-10 seconds to sound the alarm after losing connection. In a man-overboard situation, every second counts. By 10 seconds a person may already have drifted 100 yards. Click here for an article about the activity of a fall overboard situation within the first minute.

There is a high likelihood that someone could fall overboard when it is dark or there is low lighting. Ideally, there is lighting on the man-overboard device to help find the person who fell overboard. It is best to have a device that has a strong light on it to help identify the person in the water. Some app-based systems don’t have LED lights on the units attached to the person involuntarily in the water. This could mean the difference between life and death.

There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace for effective fall overboard alerting. Emerald Marine Products has compiled both a presentation and an article to hopefully clarify the strengths and weaknesses of the products and technology acting as fall overboard alarms. Emerald Marine Products specializes in products specific to fall overboard situations. Alerting, training, retrieval, and recovery – the complete package to put you and your crew at ease when concerned about someone involuntarily entering the water.

Learn more about Emerald Marine Products’ set it and forget it man-overboard alarm system. For additional information about preventing fall overboard occurrences, check out Key Learnings from the American Waterways Operator’s committee panel discussion.


Confusing terms of man-overboard alerting products.

Confusion About Man Overboard Alerting Devices?

MSLD, EPIRBs, Personal Locator Beacons, are all search terms that define a device to alert of a person unintentionally in the water. Regardless of the term, our product if the most proven and defined Fall Overboard Alerting Product on the market.

There are about a dozen products on the market that are identified as fall-overboard locator beacon products. Two commonly used terms now used to market these devices are “Maritime Survivor Locating Devices (MSLD)” and a more recently introduced term, “Personal Man Overboard Beacons”. They are generally placed in five different categories:

    1. Automatic Identification Systems (AIS)
    2. VHF DSC frequency 156.525 (Channel 70)
    3. 121.5 MHz distress channel
    4. Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon ( EPIRBs) transmitting to the Cospas-Sarsat Satellite
    5. Proximity transmission

In our article that goes into detail about these different type of alerting devices, we hope to clear up some of the confusion. To read the article, click here.

 


Fall Overboard Tragedy Can be Prevented

ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System

ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System protects all people on or near water.

As a manufacturer of products specific to fall overboard alerting and retrieval, we monitor the news for fall overboard incidents. Just today we read about two fatalities that occurred, each when a worker fell into the water and no one was aware of the issue until it became tragic. The Maritime Executive Online reported, “In the early hours of Saturday morning, a deckhand disappeared from a moored towboat on the Mississippi River at St. Joseph, Louisiana. The Coast Guard, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and the local sheriff’s department conducted a search of the river all day Saturday – including dragging the river and scanning with sonar – but without success. The search resumed Sunday morning.” In the same online issue of The Maritime Executive Online reported , “At about 1700 hours Sunday, Sector Honolulu received a distress call from the master of the fishing vessel Kawaiola, who reported that one of their crewmembers had gone overboard. The missing fisherman was last seen on the deck of the vessel at 1430 hours, and the crew did not realize that he was no longer aboard until several hours had passed.”

Two different locations, two different industries, two different work environments but both ended in the same outcome – a person fell into the water and no one was aware of this fall-overboard until minutes, even hours passed before this person was missed. We don’t know the details of these tragedies but we do know the use of an ALERT Man-Overboard transmitter on that worker could have averted the tragedy by altering the crew and vessel of a man-overboard (MOB).

Even if the person is wearing a personal flotation device (PFD), which definitely can give the person a greater opportunity for survival, there is still a need to alert the vessel that the person fell from, as this is the greatest chance of survival. The ALERT Transmitter immediately notifies the boat that a MOB has occurred, quickly calling into action all eyes and able bodies to rescue the man-overboard in minutes.

Emerald Marine Products is moved by these tragedies to reach out to the fishing community and to other small business that rely on the health and safety of their workers to continue to prosper in a very competitive and physically challenging work environment. We ask these enterprises to seriously consider investing in wearing and using PFD’s. We promise to do all we can to make our ALERT product available to you at a discount so finances are not the issue in preventing fishermen or small businesses from using a fall overboard alarm system. Because our ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System is automatic and water activated, when the person falls overboard, conscious or not, PFD wearer or not, the device when it gets wet will begin to transmit to the ALERT Receiver and within seconds the alarm is alerting all those in the area of a fall overboard situation.

We encourage solo fishermen, small fishing companies, non-profits catering to the commercial fishing industry, and other small businesses with employees working on or near water to contact us and see if we can help protect their fleets, We’d love to see these all too familiar headline’s about “Disappearing Deckhand” and “Search for Missing Fisherman” to have a better end to the story. A headline that reads, “Fisherman Falls Overboard and is Rescued by Crew”. Life saved, a story with a much better ending than the one’s we read all too often.


Fall Overboard Situations Presentation


Now available is a presentation given to the Signal Mutual Safety Meeting about Fall Overboard Situations, their cause, and solutions for fall overboard alerting and retrieval.


ALERT418 Man-Overboard Alarm System Introduction Video Now Available

Curious about our two ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm Systems? This new video provides information about the ALERT2 and ALERT418 systems. Their similarities and the improvements made with the new ALERT418 system.


University Readies Its Ships Against MOB Incident

Safety is important on any boat, even more so when scientists and inexperienced students are working on deck. The School of Oceanography at the University of Washington protects those on board its two research vessels with Emerald Marine Products’ ALERT Man-Overboard (MOB) Alarm Systems™. If someone should fall overboard, an alarm instantly sounds, providing critical extra time for a successful recovery in the cold Pacific Northwest waters and points beyond.

The university purchased ALERT2 systems for its 274′ R/V Thomas G. Thompson and 66′ R/V Clifford A. Barnes. Each is equipped with an ALERT2 Receiver, 18″ whip antenna, seven Transmitters with Spray Tight Pouches and a Man-Overboard Portable Direction Finder to pinpoint the victim in darkness or heavy seas.

Especially on the smaller Clifford A. Barnes, where people are often alone on deck, everyone wears a work vest and has access to a small and lightweight ALERT2 Transmitter. If the unit is immersed in water, it triggers the receiver to activate a piercing alarm in the wheelhouse. Unlike MOB systems that rely on satellites, like AIS, the ALERT2 is instantaneous.

There’s a need for immediacy. At even a mere 3 kts, an MOB will be 100′ astern in just 20 seconds. The sooner crew can launch a locally-managed rescue operation, the greater the success will be.

“We chose the ALERT system because of its simplicity and affordability—it’s a good value,” said Capt. Douglas Russell, manager of marine operations. “And, we received great customer care during the purchase process.” Package prices start as low as $1,068.

Founded in 1930, the Seattle-based School of Oceanography at the University of Washington provides its students with the academic tools and resources to study the marine environment, and its interaction with the earth and atmosphere. It offers baccalaureate and graduate degree programs. Its website is www.ocean.washington.edu.


Key Learning’s from the AWO Safety Committee Panel Discussion

Emerald Marine Products (EMP) attended the American Waterways Operator’s (AWO) Summer safety meeting in Pittsburgh on August 16-17th. EMP was pleased to witness a lot of discussion about fall-overboard situations. Specifically, The AWO Safety Committee held a panel of inland fleeting operators who spoke about the unique challenges of fleeters preventing falls overboard. We’d like to share some key learnings we took away from that panel discussion.

Read More


ALERT2 Man-Overboard Alarm System™ versus AIS

There is a lot of hype about an AIS (Automatic Identification System) device as being the solution of a Man-Overboard Alarm device. The truth is, an AIS device is not necessarily the best solution for a Man-Overboard (MOB) situation because of the lag-time associated with its technology. The ALERT2 Man-Overboard System is all about knowing a MOB has occurred in seconds, the greatest chance of rescue is from the vessel the MOB fell from.

Here are the differences:

Event ALERT2 Man-Overboard Alarm System AIS
Fall Overboard (event) Upon immersion the MOB wonders what the heck happened. Upon immersion the MOB wonders what the heck happened.
MOB comes up for air (+10 sec.) Luckily MOB is coherent and now above the waves. MOB looking at surroundings trying to get barrings. At this point the ALERT2 is already transmitting to ALERT2 Receiver. Luckily MOB is alert and now above the waves. MOB looking at surroundings trying to get barrings. Hopefully not panicked, MOB needs to remember how to activate AIS.
What is happening on vessel? (+20 sec.) ALERT2 Receiver howls and crew take action to search for MOB. If the boat has ALERT2 Receiver wired for engine kill, the boat has stopped moving. If MOB is successful, AIS is turned on. If first attempt fails, other manual activation may be required. Once activated AIS searches for GPS coordinates.
Search & Rescue (+30 sec.) Crew on vessel are looking for a visual of MOB. Once sighted, a crew member will lock-on to MOB as others begin rescue. Once GPS coordinates are located, the transmission to AIS-enabled receiver receives broadcast. Furthermore, the AIS icon may appear on the chart plotter as a vessel, not a MOB – so crew may still not be aware of person overboard.
1 minute has passed Vessel traveling 6 knots has separated 600 feet from MOB! ALERT2 MOB has either been sighted or ALERT2 Portable Direction Finder is able to home in on signal. Because of lag-time, MOB will probably no longer be in sight. All rescue will be dependent on following GPS coordinates.
3 minutes have passed With transmission of alarm automatic, evasive action has commenced and rescue is well on way. In reality rescue is probably just beginning.

Check out the ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm Products.

The ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System is made up of: