Accident on water

What do we see on the risk map?

Dutch waterways are used intensively. The risk map shows the following:

  • ports as the starting point for sailing routes for large passenger vessels, as a location for hazardous substances and as a landfall location – see below;
  • sailing routes: if these are used by large passenger vessels at least fifty times a year;
  • mud flat walking routes: if these are used by groups of 25 persons or more at least fifty times a year;
  • water recreation areas of at least 500 ha., with at least 2,000 adjacent moorings;
  • landfall locations: locations where casualties can be brought on land after an accident at sea or on open water.


What is the risk?

Vessels may have to deal with fires, explosions and collisions; they may run aground, sink or capsize. These events may occur at sea or on inland waterways. Causes may include weather conditions (mist, storms) and incompetence by the crew. Walking on mud flats has its own risks:

  • sudden change in the weather;
  • subsurface that has changed drastically;
  • heavy physical exertion;
  • in emergencies help may take some time to arrive. The water may rise in the mean time and the participants may suffer from the cold;
  • hypothermia as a result of wind and water.

Risks in your area?

What can you do yourself?

If you go on board a large vessel, study the deck plans and the layout. This will give you an idea of where you are and where you have to go in the case of an emergency.

In the case of an emergency on board a passenger vessel, ferry or offshore platform:

  • stay calm;
  • follow the instructions of the crew.

If there is a risk of being washed overboard:

  • ensure that you are wearing a good life jacket with fixing straps and lighting;
  • wave your arms clearly if a boat approaches to indicate that you need help.

Mud flat walking:

  • follow the instructions of the guide;
  • always remain with the group.

If you are on water and you see a vessel in distress:

  • make contact and offer your help;
  • raise the alarm if this has not yet been done (maritime telephone, distress rockets or telephone if possible);
  • go to the vessel and offer assistance.

What safety measures are there?

The government imposes safety requirements on commercial shipping and pleasure craft. There are rules for the vessels and for the crew (number, training).
In large ports and at busy transport hubs, shipping is guided (pilots). Safety on water is regularly discussed by the inspectorate, shipping companies, terminal operators, traffic supervisors and training institutions. The government checks whether laws and regulations are being complied with by Dutch and foreign vessels, crews and shipping companies.

Mud flat walks are led by experienced guides; they impose requirements on participation and may refuse participants. In emergencies, the guide may contact the coast guard to consult a doctor or to have someone collected. The guides have a maritime telephone and a stretcher with them.