A new study suggests that wearing a life jacket in the cold winter months is even more important than any other time of year because of the way our bodies respond to cold temperatures while out in the water. When coming in contact with freezing winter waters, our body’s first response is to gasp, which can cause us to inhale water. Even boaters who manage to surface and gasp air instead of water, shortness of breath can limit their ability to swim and get to safety. As a result, a victim that is not wearing a life jacket is put at a much higher risk of drowning or death without that simple form of protection.
Life Jacket Safety Statistics
The truth is, people who are skilled swimmers are more likely to turn down a life jacket when they get out on a boat because they think they don’t need it. However, even in warmer waters, accidents do happen that can cause someone to fall out of a moving boat, hit their head and become unconscious or experience a serious injury. All of the swimming skills in the world can’t help you if you aren’t conscious.
The US Coast Guard has reported that the best thing a boater can do with regard to safety is to wear a life jacket. 533 out of 758 boating fatalities throughout the United States in 2011 came as the result of drowning. While life jacket safety does not guarantee the preventing of drowning for Fall River boat owners, it does save lives. Of the 533 who drowned, a staggering 84 percent did not wear a life jacket. Beyond your boat and yacht insurance or any other type of marine coverage, life jacket safety should serve as a personal insurance in case anything goes wrong. If nothing else, it improves your odds.
What They Noticed in Pennsylvania
The Fish and Boat Commission in the State of Pennsylvania looked at the national boater statistics and realized something else about the boating accidents that were reported. More of the 533 drowning fatalities occurred between the months of November and April of boaters that weren’t practicing good life jacket safety. They quickly realized that cold water caused more drowning fatalities in the winter months than warmer water in the summer months. In fact, they realized that nearly 80 percent of the fatalities occurred when boaters weren’t wearing life jackets in cold weather.
A new regulation was passed after the study was reviewed, requiring all boaters to wear life jackets from the beginning of November through the end of April. Fall River boat owners should check with their marine coverage, boat and yacht insurance and local insurance agent to make sure new laws or regulations have not been added in Massachusetts. Life jacket safety should be a priority for boaters year round, but with all of this new information, especially in the winter months.
Learn Not to Take Risks
It is important for Fall River boat owners to learn not to take unnecessary risks. In addition to practicing good life jacket safety, it can be beneficial to learn from the mistakes of others. Whether you are fishing, hunting or just out doing some recreational boating on a kayak, canoe or boat, you should always wear your life jacket. You can even take it a step further and shop for life jackets that are especially designed for use in cold weather and cold water. Some are designed to help boaters who fall in fight against hypothermia and assist in cold water survival.
Speak with your boat and yacht insurance agent about taking a marine safety course to boost your skills or refresh your knowledge. These safety skills can be used year-round, but will come in most handy when you are trying to prevent dangerous winter accidents. Avoid unnecessary risks, know your abilities and learn how to back off when something is beyond what you can do.
Talk with your insurance agent about additional marine coverage and policies for personal watercraft, jet skis, boat and yacht insurance, marina insurance or anything else you might need to improve your coverage. Fall River boat owners should call Paul Sullivan Insurance for complete auto, home, marine and business coverage.