Coldwater Boating Safety Tips: Be Prepared

Boat at the Canal

COLUMBUS, OH – The swamping and capsizing of a small boat resulting in occupants being unexpectedly immersed in frigid water poses a serious threat to boaters and anglers getting out on the water this time of year as water temperatures slowly begin to warm.  The best way to survive a cold water immersion and guard against hypothermia and drowning is to properly wear a life jacket and be dressed for cold water temperatures instead of warmer air temperatures, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Watercraft.

A few things anglers and boaters can do to be prepared for outings on the water is to wear an approved life jacket or inflatable vest.  This keeps a person afloat should they fall off a boat or a boat capsizes.  The second tip is to wear protective clothing, such as synthetics, wool or polypropylene that help reduce the loss of body heat when immersed in cold water.  A third safety tip is to ensure that boats are properly loaded with people and gear before launching on the water to reduce the chance of swamping and capsizing.

More cold water and other boating safety tips are available online at

The Division of Watercraft reports that among 15 fatal boating accidents last year, none of the victims were found to be wearing a life jacket or vest.  In seven of the accidents, life jackets and vest were not aboard the boats as required by state and federal laws.

The ODNR Division of Watercraft administers Ohio’s boating and scenic rivers programs.  The agency oversees watercraft registration and titling operations, provides funding to local communities for education, enforcement and boating access facilities, educates the public and enforces boating laws on Ohio’s waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site

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