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Cold Water Boating Tips

Cold water immersion is almost always the result of capsizing, swamping, or falling overboard from a boat under 26 feet. Here's six tips to help prevent disaster.

1. Always wear a life jacket when in an open boat or on deck, ESPECIALLY if operating solo.

2. At least the operator, and ESPECIALLY solo operators, should carry emergency communication devices (e.g. hand-held VHF radio, cell phone in waterproof bag) and signaling devices (emergency locator beacon and visual distress signals) ON THEIR PERSON.

3. Make sure the boat has a re-boarding device (such as a swim step, ladder or foot sling) that can be used by a person overboard.

4. Solo operators should ALWAYS attach an engine cut — off device when underway.

5. Cold water boaters should consider carrying a small inflatable dingy or life raft, and immersion (survival) suits.

6. File (and stick to) a float plan.


Stages Of Cold Water Immersion

Without a life jacket, each phase means a much higher risk of drowning.

Cold Shock Response: Gasping, hyperventilation

Cold Incapacitation: Swim failure, loss of function

Immersion Hypothermia: Eventually resulting in loss of useful consciousness

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