With colder weather forthcoming, and the accompanying formation of ice in the more northerly regions of our top hemisphere, the Coast Guard reminds people to use extra precautions when planning recreational activities on cold water and frozen ponds, streams, rivers and lakes, and to make a serious investment and commitment to ice safety, since varying levels of ice thickness can catch the unwary.
If people do choose to go on to the ice, however, they should remember the acronym I.C.E. = Intelligence, Clothing, Equipment.
- know the weather and ice conditions, know where you're going, and know how to call for help Clothing
- have proper clothing to prevent hypothermia; dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature Equipment
- have proper equipment: marine radio, life jackets, screw drivers/ice picks, etc
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Cold water kills! Surprisingly, cold water is defined as any water temperature less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The fact that air temperatures might be far above freezing is irrelevant when people unexpectedly enter the water.
While the Coast Guard understands winter recreation on cold water and ice is a tradition, it is important to take safety measures:
Winter weather can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially during seasonal transitions. Always check and monitor the marine weather forecast before any trip out onto the water. Snow, high winds and dropping temperatures are good indicators an outing should be postponed.
Complete a 'float plan.' Always notify family and friends where you are going and when you expect to be back – and stick to the plan. Be sure to notify them when plans change.
Never venture out alone; plan outings with other boaters who will be on their own vessels.
Carry all required and recommended safety gear, such as visual distress signals, a sound producing device, etc.
Carry visual distress signals and a quality whistle in the pockets of the life jacket being worn so it’s close at hand in an emergency.
The Coast Guard recommends carriage of a registered personal locator beacon in addition to a VHF-FM marine radio, to alert the Coast Guard and local safety agencies of potential distress. Consider a waterproof hand-held model that can be kept on one’s person.
Wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device. A PFD allows a person to float with a minimum of energy expended and allows the person to assume the heat escape lessening position (H.E.L.P.) – bringing the knees close to the chest and holding them in place by wrapping the arms around the shin portions of the legs.
If boating with 'man’s best friend,' keep in mind dogs also need the added protection of flotation while enduring colder weather. Not all dogs swim or swim well. Not all dogs like to swim. Like their human companions, dogs are just as susceptible to the harsh elements, including the effects of hypothermia. Several manufacturers make lifejackets specifically for dogs and cats, in a variety of sizes. These are a must, especially if one's four-legged friends get underway, too.
Set limits. Know when it's time to call it a day. There'll always be another day and another outing.
Sail-World would like to thank the Ninth Coast Guard District?nid=92019
for the provision of this information, valid for anywhere in the world with cold temperatures.