According to boating and survival experts our biological response to frigid water makes wearing a life jacket even more important in the winter. Winter waters are so cold the body’s first response is to gasp, inhaling water. Even if a victim manages to surface, their ability to swim is severely limited by shortness of breath or hyperventilation. A person not wearing a life jacket in this situation is at high risk of becoming yet another boating fatality statistic.
Skilled swimmers may believe they don’t need a life jacket, but anyone who has been hit in the head after a boat flips or knocked from a fast-moving vessel will tell you that accomplished swimmers don’t have a chance if they’re not conscious. Still scoff at the idea of wearing a life jacket? Take a look at the numbers.
Leading Cause of Death for Boaters
According to the US Coast Guard, the single most important thing boaters can do for safety is to wear a life jacket. It reports there were 758 boating fatalities in 2011, 533 of which resulted from drowning. Of those who drowned, 84 percent of the victims reportedly did not wear a life jacket. Wearing a life jacket does not guarantee to prevent drowning, but there are few drowning deaths reported that occur while wearing a life jacket. It acts as your insurance should anything go wrong. Why not improve the odds you will survive?
Winter Stats Prompt New Pennsylvania State Regulation
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) noticed something seasonal when they looked at boating accident statistics: More fatalities occurred to boaters without life jackets from November through to April. Obviously the body’s response to being suddenly immersed in cold water causes more fatalities from drowning in the winter months, with reportedly almost 80 percent of boating fatalities happening when boaters neglected to wear a life jacket.
The PFBC passed a new state regulation that requires all boaters to wear a life jacket from the beginning of November through to the end of April. The life-saving devices must be worn if the boater is on the water or at anchor on any boat less than 16 feet in length, including canoes or kayaks. They offer many tips on cold water survival and safety.
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks
Learn from the mistakes of others and be safe when on the water this winter season. Wear a life jacket as insurance against the elements the whole time if you’re out fishing, hunting or recreationally on a boat, canoe or kayak. When you’re shopping for a life jacket, ask about brands or models that are designed for use in cold water. There are life jackets available that are meant to help with cold-water survival, offering extra insulation to guard against hypothermia.
At Global Marine Insurance we can provide boat insurance coverage to help protect you against the monetary loss incurred from an accident, but nothing will help protect you in cold water better than a life jacket. Please take special care this winter boating season and bring your life jacket. For more tips on surviving frigid, icy water, visit sites like Cold Water Boot Camp for survival instruction.