While other boaters may have winterized their boats and have stored them away for the winter, many boaters may still be using their vessels for hunting, fishing or transportation. Others may be out doing other activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and snowmobiling.
Unfortunately, with cold weather and winter conditions the risk of a deadly accident is increased. Extra caution and preparation should be taken when taking your boat out on the water.
If you plan on participating in any water activity this winter, make sure you follow these safety tips for winter boating to help keep you safe:
- Assess the risk. Think about the possibilities of what could go wrong, and be prepared for it
- Make sure your boat has all the safety equipment necessary. Before leaving the dock, make sure your boat has all the safety equipment necessary for a safe trip on the water.
- File a float plan. Always let someone on shore or at a marina know when you are about to head out on the waters, and leaving details of exactly where you will be and when you will be returning. If anything was to occur while you are out, they will know where to find you.
- Always wear a life jacket. The importance of wearing appropriate attire and a life jacket becomes more critical when the danger of hypothermia is added along with other concerns. Wearing a life jacket at all times can help keep boaters above water, keep you warm, and provide a chance for rescue. For more tips, check out our guide on [Safety Tips for Winter Boating].
- Have some form of communication on you at all times. On a boat, the easiest thing to have with you is a marine-brand VHF radio, a handheld GPS, and signal flares. It is essential to have some form of communication with you at all times, whether it’s a marine-brand VHF radio, a handheld GPS, and signal flares. Ensure you are covered for all risks by navigating the right boat insurance policy.
- Dress for the water, not the air and bring an extra change of clothes just in case.
- Maintain situational awareness at all times. Keeps an eye on what’s going on around the boat and any weather changes.
- Always be responsible and never go boating under the influence. Understand how boat insurance can protect you in cases of theft and vandalism.
**Know the 1-10-1 Principle
1 – You have one minute after being submerged to get your breathing under control and realize what’s happened. If breathing isn’t controlled immediately, the possibility of drowning drastically increases. This is often referred to a body’s response to “cold water shock.”
10 – After gaining your awareness, you have 10 minutes of meaningful movement to help someone self-recover. After 10 minutes, it’s likely the cold water temperatures will cause a loss of dexterity in fingers and arms, lessening the ability to recover yourself.
1 – There is approximately one hour until hypothermia will set in and you could become unconscious.
Knowing the basic cold water immersion principle can greatly increase your chances of survival if something goes wrong. Sudden immersion in cold water can have severe physiological consequences, including cardiac arrest, quick loss of body head (25x’s faster in cold water than in cold air) and involuntary inhalation of water (gasping) that results in drowning.
Don’t let the unpredictability of winter boating put a damper on your water adventures. Staying prepared and knowledgeable about safety measures is the key to a secure and enjoyable experience. Another key element of a safe boating journey is having appropriate insurance coverage. If you haven’t reviewed your coverage recently or if you’re unsure about what’s included in your current plan, now is a good time to consider checking your options for Boat insurance in BC. Having the right boat insurance can give you the peace of mind you need to freely enjoy your winter water activities. Don’t leave it to chance, protect yourself and your vessel today.