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Cold Weather Tips for Boaters, Duck Hunters

Boating Safety - Safe BoatingDETROIT The Coast Guard recently responded to several cases in which boaters and their vessels were not adequately prepared for the elements.

As the fall progresses, air and water temperatures are dropping steadily.

These temperature changes have an immediate and drastic impact on survival time. In order to ensure their safety, recreational boaters should remember to do the following:

Check the forecasted marine weather prior to getting underway. Compare the expected sea state (wind and wave heights) to the capabilities of your vessel. Dress appropriately for the water temperature, because cold water lowers body heat dramatically faster than cold air. Even if you are not planning on entering the water, the possibility of that happening is very real. An unexpected fall overboard is one of the leading factors in boating deaths.

Wear a life jacket. While there are many factors that can contribute to boating accidents, a life jacket can save a life even after an accident has occurred. Federal regulations require a life jacket onboard for each person on the boat, but the Coast Guard recommends that you wear your life jacket at all times when boating. If you do find yourself in trouble and in the water, stay with your vessel for as long as possible, even if capsized. Do not try to swim for shore.

Maintain safety gear onboard your vessel. This should include a VHF radio, a fully charged cell phone with an extra battery (if possible), distress flares, an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), and extra fuel.

Let friends and family know where you are going and how long you plan to be out on the water. In the event of an emergency, this information is crucial to providing a timely, efficient, and effective response. Family members should not hesitate to contact the Coast Guard once boaters have surpassed their planned return time and can't be reached. Timely notification is crucial and key in how long boaters are exposed to the harsh elements.