Cold water boating is an exhilarating experience that one shouldn’t miss when given the opportunity. However, it’s best to remember that going out on the water in low temperatures can also put your life at risk if you fall over without any solid action plan in place.
To make your boating trip a safe and enjoyable affair, you should make it a general rule to take precautions when the air and water temperature combined equal less than 100 Fahrenheit. Furthermore, here are the six major dos and don’ts of cold water boating:
1- Wear a Life Jacket at All Times
When immersed in almost freezing cold water, even experienced swimmers only have a minute to adjust to the cold shock. After that, a person loses consciousness and muscle control, invalidating the chances of self-rescue. That’s why it is crucial to wear your life jacket at all times, especially when you’re riding solo or are on deck.
2- Device a Float Plan
Filing a float plan, also known as the sail, trip, and rescue plan, with someone you trust is essential, even when you’re leaving the ground for only a couple of hours. The planning should include details regarding your trip, launch, marina, area, boat, passengers, towing, communication equipment, and emergency contacts.
3- Dress Appropriately
You should always dress according to the water temperature rather than the air temperature when you’re cold water boating. Moreover, layering your clothing is the best option to protect yourself from harsh weather conditions.
A synthetic fabric suit should be your first layer, as it is ideal for keeping the freezing water from your skin. Wearing a woolen hat, scarf, and insulating socks and gloves is also an excellent idea for keeping yourself warm and comfortable.
4- Don’t Panic and Practice Controlled Breathing
How you control your breathing when you fall during cold water boating can be the deciding factor between life and death. A sudden, unanticipated fall into frigid water causes an involuntary torso or gasp reflex, which results in inhalation of water. The severity of this issue comes with the fact that it only takes half a cup of water in a person’s lung to drown.
However, if you remain calm and don’t panic, it becomes much easier to stay afloat and keep your head above water.
5- Increase Buoyancy
You should look for ways to increase buoyancy if you fall over in the cold water. For example, you can remove heavy boots, if possible, to avoid the chances of drowning. If you’re with a group of people, it’s best to huddle together while facing inwards, which will help you stay afloat and keep warm.
6- Install a Re-Boarding Device
Lastly, make sure your boat is equipped with a re-boarding device, like a swim step, ladder, or foot sling. These installations will prove to be of immense help if you encounter a sudden splash in the water during cold water boating.
Make it a general rule to follow these six dos and don’ts while cold water boating to avoid any detrimental or injurious situation on your trips!