Winter Safety

By: News Release
Nov 26th, 2017

26Nov2017 - Just because the “summer” boating season has ended does not mean life on the water has. In addition to regular fishing activities, at least while the water remains soft, winter brings the addition of the waterfowl hunting season, the trapping season and the ice fishing season. These additional activities ensure plenty of human activity on the river. Cold weather brings with it a whole new set of hazards. In addition to the normal boating hazards you now have additional weight in clothing, cold air affecting your movements and sometimes mental alertness. And one of the most important hazards to consider – hypothermia.

While hypothermia can occur in the summer time it is a definite factor during the cold winter months. You can suffer from hypothermia from exposure to severe cold. Hypothermia results from your body losing heat faster than you can produce it. Hypothermia can make you sleepy, confused and clumsy. It affects your thinking doing so gradually so that you may not realize you need help. The lower body temperatures can lead to death if not treated promptly.

If you should fall into the water you can suffer immersion hypothermia which can occur in any water temperature below 70 degrees F. Water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster in water than in air. On the river hypothermia may not be your cause of death but by sapping your strength and consciousness it could be a major contributor to your drowning.

A few rules to follow: ALWAYS WEAR your life jacket. Even if you are only walking along the riverbank, checking your traps for example. What if you slip and fall or slide into the water. Depending on your physical condition and particularly the water temperature you may only have minutes before becoming physically incapacitated and unconscious.

Do not venture out alone, have someone with you who could rescue you from danger or call for help. Always file a “float plan” with someone. Let them know where you are going, who will be with you, description of your boat and vehicle and when you expect to return.

Wear appropriate warm clothing (wool and synthetics not cotton) and a means of signaling rescuers. Most of all: use common sense!