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Don't Get Into Cold Water When Boating in Winter

Jan 25

Written by:
1/25/2013 3:01 PM  RssIcon

Baby, it’s cold outside. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside.

If the sky is clear and the sun is warm, winter boating can be sublime. The waters are quieter, with fewer fellow boaters.

The fresh air is a welcome respite from the indoors. And, of course, winter is the season of waterfowl hunting, a hobby often combined with boating.

But with the colder weather and colder water, boaters, hunters and anglers should take special precautions. While drowning is a potential hazard of boating any time of year, the often-frigid icy winter waters bring special dangers. Within two minutes of falling into cold water, a person can be essentially paralyzed, and unable to move to keep himself afloat. The person may gasp and hyperventilate,and have trouble holding his breath. His muscles may cramp, and he may have difficulty swimming.

Within 15 minutes, hypothermia can set in. More waterfowl hunters die from drowning and hypothermia — the loss of body heat — than gunshot wounds. Thrashing about in the water can increase heat loss and cause exhaustion, which may lead to drowning.

If you plan to boat this winter, please be safe. Wear warm clothing, and tell someone exactly where you are going and when you will be back. Don’t boat under the influence.

Here are some other tips to keep boaters safe:

• Always wear a life vest.

• Don't overload the boat, especially with passengers.

• Keep hunting dogs prone in the center of the boat.

• Never move about the boat with a loaded firearm.

In the event of capsizing or swamping, stay with the boat. It will provide some flotation and will be the initial focus of a rescue attempt.

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