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Boating During the Fall: An Amazing Experience But Be Prepared

It’s exciting and amazing.

Nothing feels as spectacular as having the warm breeze of the river or lake.  Actually, boating is the way I most easily distress from a long week of work, and I guess many people share my feelings in thinking that boating is one of the most beautiful past times around. It’s too bad that with the end of summer people also think that the boating season is over. That is not necessarily true though. Fall can be a great time to be out on the water, especially if you live in an area with the mild autumn weather.  Still, this is a time to be prepared, as boating in the fall does prevent some un-thought of risks.

In the United States alone, there are approximately 1500 deaths associated with hypothermia every year; a dangerous condition that involves a serious drop in body temperature due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Hypothermia symptoms begin with severe shivers then dizziness and disorientation followed by a lethargic condition where the shivering stops. This is when the body stops blood circulation to the arms and legs and concentrates efforts on your vital organs – brain, heart, and lungs. The heart rate slows and gradually weakens until it stops. This sounds like a long process but it can actually kill you in a very short period of time. Now, this isn’t meant to scare you off, but it is important that you realize that hypothermia can occur. The major reason for death during a boating excursion is caused by a lack of information.

Accidents that occur during the autumn and winter are usually a result of serious exposure to cold water and weather. This is why it is important to be prepared. Here are some of the tips that can lower your risk of having an accident on your next boating trip:

  1. Inform your friends or family members of your plans to go boating. There aren’t a lot of boaters out during this season, so you want to make sure people know of your whereabouts. If possible, inform them of where you plan on going as well and how long you plan on staying out. This will help them determine whether they’ll need to call emergency services at some point.
  2. Put on a life jacket. Not only will you stay afloat if you fall in the water, but a life vest will also help in keeping your body warm.

If for some reason you do fall over into the water, these tips can help you survive until the Coast Guard gets to you.

Wear Protective Clothing

Be sure you wear a good waterproof protective shell jacket. You also want to tighten your collar, and zip the jacket all the way up. Wear water proof shoes and make sure you button and buckle your clothes all up as much as possible. Keep your head covered as most of your body heat escapes from your head.

 Get Out of the Water if at all Possible

One of the most significant symptoms of hypothermia is the loss of control of your hands and feet. So before that happens, do everything you can to get yourself out of the water. Look for a raft, a log or anything that can support your weight. If your boat has turned over, put it right and if you can’t, just climb over it. Even if it is full of water, the boat will still manage to support you.

Keep Calm and Retain Body Heat

Try to remain still if possible. Endure the pain and shivering which are only natural reactions of your body. Don’t swim, unless it’s to get to a nearby boat, person, or any other object that floats. Swimming will reduce your chance of survival because it releases much of your body heat.  Body warmth will greatly increase your chances of survival, so if you’re with another person, get as close together as possible to share body heat, otherwise, curl up in a fetal position, so you preserve more of your own body heat.

These are just safety precautions you should take into account when boating in the fall. You also want to make sure you take extra warm clothing, blankets, flares, and flashlights, just in case your boat stalls out on the water.  Make sure your communications equipment is functional as well. Boating in the fall can be very enjoyable; you just want to make sure you are fully prepared for any emergency situation.

 

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