Here are some winter boating safety tips from our boat insurance professionals:
Lower your risk of hypothermia: Obviously when the temperatures dip below freezing, your risk of life-threatening hypothermia increases. Plan for the cold and dress appropriately with lots of good warm and waterproof layers, a hat, and good gloves. You might want to consider a float-coat, which is great for safety because they come with a built-in Personal Flotation Devices (PFD). Pack an extra change of clothing for each person on board because if anyone gets wet or falls overboard, you’ll need dry clothing urgently. Also, plan to have a fully stocked first aid kit and warm beverages like hot chocolate or foods like soup available.
Refresh your first aid smarts about hypothermia: Take a minute to read about the signs, symptoms, and risks of hypothermia. If you are far from shore, you must act quickly to remove any wet clothing, get protection from wind and cold, and start trying to warm the victim with warm, dry clothing and blankets – or your body heat. Warm liquids can help, but not if they are caffeinated or alcoholic.
Leave a float plan with someone you trust: This should hold true for every single trip you take on your boat, but it becomes even more important when boating in the off-season. Here’s everything you need to know about filing a float plan so that if something goes wrong, your rescuers will know when to raise the alarm and where to look to find you.
Be prepared before you leave the dock: It’s never fun to run into trouble out on the water, but it is crucial that you make sure that everything is in good running condition and your boat is fully-stocked if you go boating in the winter. Take the time to check things like your battery power, plumbing, and fuel lines. Test to make sure your VHF radio works and that you have an adequate supply of emergency signal flares on board – or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). Before you leave, you might want to check that your boat insurance policy is current and offers you adequate coverage.
Watch the weather: Keep an eye on the skies and an ear to the weather reports while you’re out on the water. It’s easier than ever to get accurate weather information for boaters these days, but if it looks like storms are brewing, then trust your gut and get back to shore.
Ready for some frosty fun with winter boating? Contact the marine insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance to review your policies before you embark on winter boating adventures.