The sight is horrifying. You may have been enjoying an afternoon of fishing or recreation on Rough River Lake, Barren River Lake, or another Kentucky lake or river when you noticed another boat in trouble. Maybe you saw smoke from a fire, heard people screaming, or noticed that the boat was taking on water. You want to help—you want to save the lives of those on board, but how?

What to Do—and What Not to Do—Now

It is easy to be overwhelmed and unsure about what to do when you are faced with this very difficult situation. However, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • Help those on board the boat unless doing so would put you or anyone on your boat in danger. You do not want to endanger yourself or your passengers, nor do you want to make the recovery of those on the other boat more difficult by adding to the emergency.
  • Call for help. Contact the Coast Guard immediately for help and advice.
  • Stay to assist with the recovery. Stay in the area until rescue boats arrive and do what you can to safely assist with the recovery of passengers.

You may not be able to prevent a problem on another boat, but you may help prevent injury or death to those on the vessel.

Have You Ever Been in This Situation?

Have you ever had to decide what to do to help another boater who was in trouble? What did you do? What do wish you had done differently? Please leave a comment and let other Kentucky boaters know about your experience so that, together, we can help keep each other stay safe on the water.


Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky
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