Boating can be one of the most exciting things that you ever do, but as the old saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Safety is something that simply cannot be passed over as a boat owner and rider. You need to make sure that you and your guests are safe, understand the risks involved and are educated on how to react to accidents.
Most drownings or boat-related fatalities are a direct result of somebody going overboard or the boat capsizing, especially in cold water. This cold-water immersion is so dangerous because the body is shocked, both mentally and physically, causing the body to shut down, making drowning much easier.
As the water begins to cool down, and we enter the colder months, it is important to either learn or refresh what you already knew about cold water and what to do in case of an accident and yourself or somebody you are with, goes overboard.
There are 4 stages to cold-water immersion:
The number one cause of fatality when it comes to any boating accident is lack of life jacket. In the case of surviving cold-water immersion, a lifejacket could be the single most important determining factor.
Below is a great infographic put together by BoatUS Foundation with tips for preventing and surviving a cold-water immersion situation. The number one tip on the list, as always, is to always wear a lifejacket! Other tips include carrying handheld emergency communication devices on their person, making sure the boat has a re-boarding device, engine cutoffs, and last but not least, to file and stick to a float plan.
Fishing in the winter can be a lot of fun and can yield some great catches (and memories!), but it is absolutely important to make sure to be as safe as possible when out in the water. Even if the air temperature is abnormally warm for the time of the year, do not be fooled — the water temperatures are not nearly as forgiving.