LAKE TAHOE — The U.S. Coast Guard wants to reminds fishermen, boaters and paddlers to take extra precautions on and around the water as the air and water temperatures grow colder during the winter months.
The area has been experiencing colder weather for some time now, which means boaters, paddlers, fishermen and anyone who is planning to be out on the water should wear a life jacket and maybe carry extra gear to protect them from the cold.
“A fall into cold water ... will cause you to gasp and hyperventilate, just like a cold shower or jumping into a very cold pool,” said Paul Newman, Recreational Boating Safety Specialist for the 11th Coast Guard District. “Without a life jacket on, you’ll gasp underwater, possibly inhaling up to a quart of water in the first seconds. This is when most people drown. A life jacket lets you float so you can catch your breath and survive.”
How quickly hypothermia sets in depends on many factors including the water temperature, your physical condition and whether or not you’re wearing protective gear.
Fishermen, paddlers and boaters are encouraged to follow these six safety rules:
1. Leave a float plan with a responsible person who knows where you plan to go and what to do if you don’t show up at the time you are expected.
2. Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket and set an example for your passengers or paddling partners.
3. Have a working marine-band radio and GPS on board your vessel. Remember VHF-FM channel 16 is the emergency channel for mariners.
4. Maintain situational awareness on the water. Be aware of activity around your boat, including changing weather, and always know your location.
5. Check the weather and water temperatures before going out on the water.
6. Be responsible. Don’t boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For weather information, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website at weather.gov/.
This article was submitted to the Bonanza by the U.S. Coast Guard.