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Boating Safety - Hypothermia

This is good information for all our cold water Striper fishermen as they spend lots of time on the cold water!

Children and old people are the most vulnerable to hypothermia. If you are of the older persuasion then you should make it a habit to wear your life jacket every time you venture out on the water. If you have kids on the boat then it should be Rule Number 1 that they wear a life jacket at all times. If you are not an experienced sailor or Captain it would also be a good idea to wear your life jacket. These are recommendations for operationg a vessel in warm water conditions. When winter time and dangerously cold life threatening water temps set in it should be a rule for ALL persons on the boat to wear their life jacket. When you are fishing or boating in cold weather and cold water please wear your life jacket or survival gear, you just might save the life of your child or your own life! A new U.S. Federal Law states that ALL children aged 12 and under must wear a life jacket if on an open deck of a boat underway. The only exceptions are in States with pre-existing laws to the contrary.

boating safety

"In 2002, life jackets could have saved the lives of 445 boaters
who drowned."

- U.S.Coast Guard


Fintalk offers basic boating knowledge and safety tips.
Please refer to the current Coast Guard government website
for more in-depth and up-to-date safety and navigation laws!


The following is a rough guide to survival times in various water temperatures.
Water Temperature[°F]     Exhaustion &    Unconsciousness    Survival Time
32° Under 15 minutes 15 - 45 minutes
33° - 40° 15 - 30 minutes 30 - 90 minutes
41° - 50° 30 - 60 minutes 1 - 3 hours
51° - 60° 1 - 2 hours 1 - 6 hours
61° - 70° 2 - 7 hours  2 - 36 hours
71° - 80° 3 - 12 hours Indefinitely

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that most drowning victims did not drown because they did not know how to swim. They were lost because they quickly started to suffer from hypothermia and had no life jacket on to keep them afloat!

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature falls more than 2 or 3o F. Hypothermia that occurs from exposure to cold air happens gradually. However, because water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air does, it is a very serious problem for a person in the water.

Symptoms include: mental confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech and exhaustion. If left in the water too long, the victim will become unconscious, with breathing and heart rates slowing and, eventually, stopping.

Hypothermia Signals include:
1. Confusion
2. Impaired judgement
3. Shivering
4. Numbness
5. Drowsiness
6. Weakness
7. Dizziness
8. Impaired vision

Some Do's and Don'ts

If you find yourself in cold water, here are a few Do s and Don’t s.

DO assume the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP). Pull your legs up over your groin area, clasp your arms over your chest and move as little as possible. Survival time can be doubled when in the HELP position. This method assumes that you had a lifejacket on when you went overboard. (Lifejackets float, you don't. Wear them!) If you don't have a lifejacket on, tread water as little as possible to retain body heat.

If your boat has swamped or capsized, DO STAY WITH THE BOAT and try to get as much of your body as possible out of the water and onto the boat.

If you rescue someone suffering from hypothermia, DO remove their wet clothing and wrap them in warm blankets. DON'T massage their arms and legs! Doing so draws more heat away from their vital organs. If the person is unconscious or in shock, call for medical assistance immediately. The body loses most of its heat from the head, spine and groin areas, so the head should be wrapped or covered and the body placed flat against a warm surface and wrapped in warm blankets as stated before. DON'T give the victim alcohol!

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