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Hunters and Fishermen at High Risk of Drowning

Press Release, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Date: October 5, 2010
Contact: Penny Bailey

WASHINGTON - Hunters and fishermen in small boats pose the highest risk for drowning. In cool weather, pleasure boaters’ dwindle and lakes and rivers play host to hunters and fisherman. Many times, these outdoorsmen don’t see themselves as “boaters”. They are hunters and fishermen. The boat is simply a tool of the trade; little more than a means to the end of bringing home dinner, a trophy, or a good fish story.

Hunters and fishermen rarely take a safe boating classes offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the US Power Squadron. Wearing a life jacket is often viewed as uncomfortable and in the way.

Small craft are often unstable. Their center of gravity is altered by small movements. Falling overboard is easy, even without a collision, bad weather, or high speeds.

People sometimes stand in a boat raising the boat’s center of gravity and reducing the boat’s stability. As the boat shifts and rocks, passengers may lose their balance and fall into the water. The water is cool enough to trigger a gasp reflex upon sudden immersion. As people inhale water, they begin to drown.

Hunters and fisherman spend much of their time in shallow water around standing timber, submerged rocks, and logs; as these are a great habitat in which to locate (or hide from) their quarry. Unfortunately, falling headfirst from a standing position into shallow water around rocks and logs is a very good way to be knocked unconscious and drown. A person can also hit one’s head on the gunwales of their own boat.

Don’t drink and fish or hunt. Balance will be impaired and resistance to hypothermia be reduced. Judgment will be diminished - deadly mix.

Remember; always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket when in a boat. Having one on board but stowed under the seat won’t help you in the water. Fish or hunt with a buddy. It’s more fun, and there’s someone there to help you if there’s a problem. When alone, you could be in serious trouble for a long time before anyone even misses you. File a Float Plan. Make sure someone knows where you are, and when you’re expected back. Save the alcohol for when you get home with your catch. And, take a Safe Boating Class and get a Vessel Safety Check.

Have fun, and come home safe!

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