Mayday (originally from the French term "venez m'aider" meaning "come help me") is the universal distress signal to call out to marine rescue and other vessels that you are in imminent grave and life-threatening danger and need immediate assistance. A Mayday call has absolute priority over all other transmissions.
Knowing how to make a Mayday call is essential and may someday save your life. If you experience a life-threatening situation (fire, explosion, life-threatening injury or illness, taking on water, person overboard), here is a summary of the basic steps to make a Mayday call:
Even more instructive than reading about how to make a Mayday call is listening to a real Mayday recording. One of the most infamous Mayday calls from our area is the one made on May 9, 1980 when the carrier ship Summit Venture ran into the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The impact caused a large section of the bridge to collapse and fall 165 feet into the waters of Tampa Bay, taking with it a Greyhound bus and six other vehicles, and causing the deaths of a total of 35 people. Click here to listen to the actual recording: Sunshine Skyway Disaster Mayday Call.
Heintz & Becker takes the issue of boating safety very seriously and encourages all boaters to follow our boating safety series. Many boating accidents can be prevented through safety preparedness and education. If you really want to make boating safety and being prepared a priority, why not make a commitment to participate in boater safety courses and engage in safe boating practices. And remember, Heintz & Becker offers free, no-obligation consultations to anyone who has been injured in a boating accident caused by someone else's fault.
Source(s): 1st Coast Guard District SPECIAL NOTICE TO MARINERS 2001 Edition, wikiHow, "How to Call Mayday from a Marine Vessel", Wikipedia, "MV Summit Venture"