Springtime Boating: Always Wear Your PFD!

Springtime Boating: Always Wear Your PFD!

An old salt once told us about the “Rule of 50.”  It says that “The average 50 year-old adult stands a 50 per cent chance of surviving a 50-yard swim in 50-degree water.”

Warmer weather is on the way, and it will lure many of us back onto the water in the coming weeks.  As we head out, let’s remember that the typical water temperature in these parts is still in the 40’s and 50’s.  Any incident that results in going into the drink could quickly become a matter of life and death.

You can increase your odds of cold-water survival.

Always wear a PFD.  It may be a little cumbersome.  It may not look cool.  But if you fall in, your biggest concern will be to keep as much of your body out of the water as possible.  Your PFD will not only keep you afloat, but it will help you to …

  • Remain still.  Treading water or swimming will greatly increase the rate at which your body loses heat.  It seems a little counter-intuitive, but studies show that assuming a fetal position and staying still can reduce your body’s heat loss by about 30 per cent.
  • Stay with your boat.  Even if it’s capsized, the boat will help you get more of your body out of the cold water and makes a much larger object for searchers than a person in the water.  Do not leave a floating boat unless you are absolutely sure that there is no chance of being rescued.

Finally, let someone know where you’re going before you leave and when to expect you back.  If an accident does happen, it will be very reassuring to know that someone knows when and where to look for you.