Pete Lester: (603) 271-3211
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
November 21, 2003

Cold Water Safety Reminder

CONCORD, N.H. -- Waterfowlers and other outdoor enthusiasts who venture out in small craft this time of year are reminded to make safety a priority. With few boaters on the water in the late fall, the chances of a quick rescue are greatly diminished, says Pete Lester, Administrator for Hunter Education at New Hampshire Fish and Game and a veteran waterfowler. Earlier this month in Wisconsin, two teenage duck hunters on Lake Winnebago drowned following the capsizing of their boat during a duck-hunting trip.

Cold-weather boat users can take action to prevent such a tragedy by always wearing a lifejacket and clothing that protects them from the effects of cold water. All boaters should check weather reports prior to departing, tell a friend where you're going and when you expect to return, tie a whistle to each life jacket, carry dry clothing in a waterproof bag and make a mental note of other boats around you in case a rescue is necessary.

Cold water removes heat from a human body 25 times faster than cold air, according to Lester. Immersion in cold water can cause "cold shock," including the possibility of cardiac arrest, involuntary gasping for air (which can result in immediate drowning) and a high potential for losing consciousness. "The water around your boat at this time of year is as dangerous as if you were floating in a vat of acid," Lester says.

If you do fall into the water this time of year, try to get back in or on your boat immediately. Do not leave the boat. If you're not wearing thermal protection and can't get out of the water, stay as still as possible. Fold your arms, cross your legs and float quietly on the buoyancy of your Personal Flotation Device until help arrives.


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