2012-03-17 / News

Cold water raises risks for boaters

COLUMBUS – As sport anglers venture onto Lake Erie and other waterways in their boats for early season fishing action, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Watercraft advises boaters to take precautions to reduce the effects of cold water immersion should people unexpectedly fall into the icy cold water.

The risks associated with a cold water immersion for unprepared people can be severe and result in death if a boat capsizes or a person falls overboard. Most Ohio waterways remain free of ice, but water temperatures are only a few degrees above freezing.

The most apparent risk to life results from the immediate effects of cold water shock and cold water incapacitation. This often leads to hypothermia for people who become immersed in cold water and are not properly dressed for the conditions.

Properly loading a boat and not overloading it with people and gear is an important first step to reduce the chances of a boat capsizing. Properly wearing an approved life jacket or inflatable vest saves lives and should be a part of every boat angler’s safety gear routine before boating. Paying close attention to current and future weather conditions and filing a float plan with a responsible person are also key safety tips to follow when boating, especially during cold conditions.

Another good way to be prepared for an unexpected fall into seasonally cold waters is to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. More safety tips are available on the Division of Watercraft’s website at www.ohiodnr.com/ watercraft.

Information shared in a training program known as the Cold Water Boot Camp details the risks associated with cold water immersions and offers tips on how to be prepared for cold water boating conditions. Learn more about the training program at www.coldwaterbootcamp.com.

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