Spring time may be just around the corner but the present cold waters of Green Country are still a hazard for hunters and fishermen. Countless boats are being put in the waters of local lakes, rivers and reservoirs as area outdoorsmen and women are enjoying the warmer air temperatures. Keep in mind the water temperatures are still cold enough to pose a serious hypothermia threat. Nationwide in 2011, 75 percent of all boating fatalities are the result of drowning. Almost 85 percent of the victims were not wearing life jackets. To avoid adding your name to these statistics, always keep in mind the following safety tips to make your next trip on the water a safe and enjoyable experience.
• Leave a float plan with someone you know, describing where you are going, who you are with and when you expect to return.
• Transport firearms to the boat unloaded with muzzle pointed first and the action open.
• Strap an approved life jacket on everyone when in a boat. Real Men Do Wear Lifejackets.
• Always have a throwable flotation device in case someone falls overboard.
• Secure a distress signaling device onboard which can be as simple as an orange distress flag and/or smoke flares for day time and a flashlight for night time.
• Know the weather forecast for the area. Nothing ruins an outing quite like a storm.
• Be aware of your boats capacity plate and never overload.
• Always stay seated or kneel when shooting from an open boat. • If an accident occurs, STAY WITH THE BOAT if possible and use distress signals.
• Unless clothing is creating a hazard, do not remove extra clothing. It can help prevent hypothermia.
• To retain body heat, pull your knees to your chest and keep your elbows to your sides.
Final and most important tip when boating, “Do Not Drink Alcohol.” Alcohol not only impairs your judgment and reflexes but also dilates blood vessels, which can speed up the effects of hypothermia.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the volunteer component of Team Coast Guard assists the active duty Coast Guard in its varied missions, except for military and direct law enforcement. These men and women can be found on the nation's waterways, in the air, in classrooms and on the dock, performing Maritime Domain Awareness patrols, safety patrols, vessel safety checks and public education.
The Auxiliary was founded in 1939 by an Act of Congress as the U.S. Coast Guard ResMore than 34,000 members contribute millions of hours annually in support of Coast Guard missions.