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Supported by Trinity House

Person overboard

Feel confident about capsize and person overboard drills with these dry land dramas.

You will need

  • Nautical props (optional)
Scouts practice what to do in the event that someone falls overboard when on the water.

Before you begin

  • Try this activity at your meeting place before heading off on a water activities trip.
  • Make sure all activity leaders have read through the Royal Life Saving Society’s advice on how to rescue someone from drowning before delivering this activity.

Run through the drill

  1. Everyone should sit in a large circle.
  2. The person leading the activity should invite someone to help them demonstrate a person overboard situation: someone’s fallen off a boat into the water and needs to be rescued. They can pretend they are in a double kayak, sailing dinghy or paddle boarding together.
  1. The person should pretend to fall in the water (or pretend that their craft has capsized).
  2. Everyone should call out, ‘person overboard’.
  3. One person should look and point continuously at the person in the water so rescuers can see where they are.
  4. The person in the water should swim to the side of the craft and holds on as it can act as a flotation device. They could also look for a buoy or ring buoy.
  5. One person should check that everyone else is OK and holding onto the craft.
  6. The person leading the activity should check everyone understands what happened during this drill before continuing to the stories.
  7. Everyone should know to help others who are not OK. They should remember that they should never put themselves in danger.

Storytelling time

  1. The person leading the activity should read out the stories below while everyone else acts them out.
  1. Now, everyone should have the confidence, skills and knowledge to complete a person overboard drill in water.


This activity helped everyone to practise essential skills in a safe environment before they embark on water activities. Everyone had to be brave and calm in the drama situations and think quickly while taking steps to keep themselves and others safe. If anyone has done a capsize drill on real water, they could tell the group what it was like. They should talk about whether were scared or nervous and how they felt afterwards. Do they have any useful tips such as keep calm, hold on to the craft or breathe steadily? Well done to everyone on being ready to take part in water activities.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.