204 U.S. fishermen died after falling overboard from 2000-2016, a new study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reveals. 60% of the falls weren’t witnessed, and almost 90% of the victims weren’t found. In all instances, not a single fisherman was wearing a life jacket. With spring just around the corner, anglers are looking forward to enjoying the warmer climates. However, it’s important to remain vigilant and brush up on essential safety tips to help you successfully get through the spring fishing season.
Improve water confidence
Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury and death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, with an average of 3,500 to 4,000 people drowning every year in the U.S. It’s therefore important to take precautions to stay safe on the water while fishing. Since many adults lack basic swimming skills, the time to improve your swimming skills and strengthen your water confidence is one of the best ways to prevent unintentional drowning. Wearing a lifejacket can also save your life if you fall in the water, whereas they’re extremely difficult to put on during an emergency or when you’re already in the water. In fact, half of all boating deaths may be prevented with the use of lifejackets. Don’t drink alcohol while fishing: alcohol can dramatically impair your judgment, as well as decrease your chance of survival if you do fall in the water.
Refresh your memory
Taking a boating safety course is a great way to refresh your memory of the basics, including what to do in an emergency, how to use flares, and how to correctly wear a lifejacket. These safety courses can even be done online conveniently from the comfort of your own home. It’s also important to brush up on the rules of the road — the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) can be found on the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center website. For example, you should know how to determine which boat has right of way when encountering another boat underway.
Don’t be fooled by the warmer weather
Although air temperatures will soon start to become pleasant and mild, it’s important not to let your guard down while you’re out in your boat. In the water, ice cold temperatures should still be expected, which means the risk of hypothermia is still present, even if it’s T-shirt weather. It’s therefore important to dress sensibly. Wear layers, but make sure your clothes are comfortable and let you move around easily. Fleece fabric typically makes a good base layer, followed by a sweatshirt or hoodie for extra insulation and a light jacket to keep your inner layers dry. Rubber boots paired with thick wool socks will also keep your feet warm and dry. Don’t forget to bring an extra change of dry clothing and waterproofs — you’ll be thankful for this during spring showers.
Spring is one of the best seasons for fishing. With these essential safety tips, you’ll successfully be able to make the most of the season.