Mario Vittone is a retired U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer, who for 22 years rescued boaters in distress from the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. He served two tours as a rescue swimmer at Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and one at Air Station New Orleans, Louisiana. Vittone was also an instructor and course developer at the Aviation Technical Training Center in Elizabeth City before retiring in 2013. An expert in immersion hypothermia, drowning, sea survival and safety at sea, he today writes and lectures on boating safety and search-and-rescue topics for popular print publications.
LIFELINES: Safety And Rescue At Sea will be Vittone's weekly blog for Soundings, sharing what he's learned about planning ahead, to better ensure that all your adventures afloat have happy endings.
Choosing A Life Jacket And Knowing When To Wear It
When I was in the U.S. Coast Guard, I couldn’t say this; but I believe the phrase “Always wear your life jacket” is terrible advice.
More Myths About Drowning
Last week in Lifelines, Mario Vittone dispelled a massive myth in his post Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning, which went viral and will save lives. This week, Vittone tackles the fallacy that untrained, but otherwise competent swimmers, can't make an attempt to save someone who's drowning and tells us how to (safely) do it.
Can You Tell When a Person is Drowning?
Mention drowning and we all tend to envision a person in the water waving his hands, splashing and screaming for help. That’s not even remotely close to what a drowning person looks like, writes Mario Vittone in this week’s Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog.
DSC Is An Amazing Tool. Do You Know How To Use It?
At a meeting with 250 boaters last year, I asked for a show of hands: “How many of you have registered your DSC radio and have an MMSI number?
The World’s Greatest Job: How Rescue Swimmers Are Made
You don’t have to be able to deadlift 400 pounds, but you do need to be able to keep your cool under pressure if you want to become a Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer, writes Mario Vittone in this week’s Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog.
Giving Up: Why the Coast Guard Quits Looking
The Coast Guard uses a computer model — among other tools — to aid in the determination of whether it should continue searching for someone. Mario Vittone discusses the factors taken into account when calling off a search in this week’s Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea.
The Wrong Argument - Why Experience Doesn't Matter
No one likes to change when it comes to new rules or regulations that restrict free will. Professionals should decide for themselves what is right or wrong, based on their knowledge and experience, and apply it to operate their vessel safely and effectively. The only problem is just how often that model fails. Mario Vittone explains why experience is a rotten teacher in this week's installment of Lifelines: Safety And Rescue at Sea.
The Case That Changed Things
After working an incident where an angler and his two sons lost their lives, Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Mario Vittone changed his focus to helping boaters prepare for the worst. He writes about the case, and his upcoming Boaters University video series, in this week’s Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog.
Ask Your Captain: Tips for Picking a Safe Charter
How do you find out if the captain on your next fishing charter or head boat excursion is a capable one? Mario Vittone writes about the three questions he asks, when in doubt, in this week’s Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog.
VIDEO: Seeing is Believing: A Demonstration of Cold Water Survival Tactics
Mario Vittone takes a 41-degree dip in the Delaware River in this week’s Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog. Watch his video to learn a simple cold-water immersion strategy that could save your life.
If You Had to Pick One: EPIRB vs. AIS vs. Satellite Devices
What’s the one man overboard device you should pack in your life jacket? The answer is, “Yes,” writes Mario Vittone in this week’s Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog.
The Two Ways to Handle a MOB
There's a 40 percent chance you'll never be seen again — alive or dead —if you fall overboard at sea. It is perhaps the most dangerous boating situation you can find yourself in, writes Mario Vittone in this week's Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog.
An Invisible Killer: What You Should Know About Carbon Monoxide
It’s odorless, colorless and lurks aboard every boat with an engine — carbon monoxide, the silent killer. Read Mario Vittone’s latest Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog to find out how a little knowledge, preventative maintenance and $99 can save your life.
Local Notice To Mariners: A Reality Check For Your Charts
Exploding lava, missing and unlighted buoys, channel shoaling and daymark destruction are just a few things you can find in a Coast Guard Local Notice To Mariners (LNM). Mario Vittone explains why you should check the LNM for your area every week in his latest Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea blog.
Two is One, One is None: Backups for Your Electronics
In this week's Lifelines: Safety And Rescue At Sea, Mario Vittone recommends three pieces of electronic gear you should keep onboard as backups. It’s not as expensive a proposition as you might think. WATCH.