Labor Day marks the start of the fall boating season, a time for cooler weather, uncrowded waterways and great fishing. But according to BoatUS, this time of year also brings its own unique safety challenges, especially for boaters or anglers in smaller craft.
“There are reasons why September-November are the deadliest months of the year for boaters,” says BoatUS Foundation Director of Boating Safety Chris Edmonson, according to Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics. “But the good news is that there are some common sense steps that may prevent a small mishap from becoming serious.”
Here are some U.S. Coast Guard statistics along with some fall boating safety tips:
*While there are more accidents in the summer months when recreational boating is in full swing, the odds of dying if you are in and accident go up during fall months. BoatUS cites 22 percent and 25 percent of all accidents in fall months result in deaths.
*Statistics also show over half of all boating deaths occur with small boats. That’s because they are usually open to the elements and more vulnerable to wind, waves and swamping.
*Cold water quickly saps away your strength. Wearing a life jacket could give you the time needed to safely re-board if you accidently fall overboard. Also ensure you have a means to quickly get back aboard without assistance if fishing alone. Over two-thirds of all fatal boating accidents victims drowned and of these, 90 percent were not wearing a life jacket.
*Don’t let sunny skies fool you. Dress appropriately and recognize that even slight changes in the weather can make hypothermia a real threat if you’re not prepared.
*In fall, there are very few fellow boaters and anglers near by (your closest potential rescuers). Without the help of fellow boaters, you float plant is your only back-up. Share with a family member or friend where you plan to go and when you expect to return, so they may notify authorities if you are overdue returning. If you fall in the water and don’t have a waterproof cover on your cell phone, that device will not be of much use to you. And that’s if it doesn’t fall in too and goes to the bottom of the lake.
Heed these words of wisdom and you’ll better enjoy your time on the water when the fish are on their fall/winter feed.
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Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.