Five Winter Boating Safety Tips You Need to Know

Winter is finally here, which means the season for water recreation is over. However, die-hard boaters and mariners often stay out on the water all year. This makes it important for these hobbyists to practice cold weather safety measures to ensure that they will make it home safe. Whether you are new to winter boating or a veteran, here are five tips to help keep you safe during the winter months:

  1. Wear a Lifejacket – Though this may seem like common sense, it becomes even more important in the winter. If a person falls into cold water, he or she has a limited amount of time to get the situation under control. The cold water can disorient and trigger a gasping reflex that could draw water into the lungs. Any device that helps you find your way to the surface can give you the precious seconds you need to survive. A properly fitted lifejacket is one of those critical timesaving devices.
  2. Dress Properly – Dressing for the cold air is what most people do in the winter, but do you also dress for the cold water? Bulky winter clothing and jackets can impede your movement in the water and weigh you down. This is especially dangerous since cold water can affect muscle movement and control. Clothing made of slimmer, waterproof materials that hold in heat can reduce this bulk and help you maneuver if you fall into the water.
  3. Have a Communications Device – Everyone has a cellphone and keeping it with you out on the water is a good idea. However, cellphones often become more unreliable the further from the coast you get. A marine VHF radio and a GPS are more reliable, and the coast guard is always monitoring VHF channel 16 for distress calls. Keeping your devices in a Ziploc bag can also help ensure that water doesn’t keep you from using them in an emergency.
  4. Maintain Your Vessel – Winter can also affect the condition of your vessel. Lines and plumbing that are not properly flushed or plugged can crack if water freezes in them. This could cause your boat to take on water when you go out. Cold weather also drains batteries, so make sure you keep your battery on a trickle charger when docked and have an emergency jumper pack available.
  5. Don’t Drink and Boat – This final tip is valid for the entire year, but winter weather can multiply the danger. Drinking while boating can affect your reaction time and cloud your situational awareness. Any resulting accident could expose passengers or fellow mariners to hypothermia and death. Don’t boat or work under the influence of alcohol.

A Maritime Attorney May Be Able to Help After a Winter Boating Accident

Though these tips are a good place to start, there are even more ways to prevent winter boating accidents. So, check out the Coast Guard’s blog and keep following our maritime blog to learn more. If you or a loved one suffered harm during a winter boating accident, contact Latti & Anderson, LLP. Our experience has helped mariners and boaters who were hurt on the water. Call us at (800)392-6072 to determine if you have options for recovering compensation.