Kansas: Cold-Water Boating Requires Added Precautions

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Anglers and hunters can protect themselves against hypothermia
While pleasure boaters have winterized and stored their watercraft, avid waterfowl hunters and cold-weather anglers are gearing up for fall hunting and fishing seasons. But fall can be a dangerous time on the water. Most single-boat accidents take place this time of year, and with water temperatures cooling, these accidents can be deadly.

One common mistake is overloading a small boat with people and equipment. Overloaded boats are unstable and can easily capsize or cause passengers to fall overboard into frigid water. Sudden immersion into cold water delivers a brutal shock to the body, triggering a spontaneous inhalation reflex — deadly if one’s head is under water. But wearing a life jacket can be enough to keep your head above water during an involuntary gasp, keeping lungs from filling with water.

In addition, the body loses heat 25 times faster in water than in air of the same temperature. Hypothermia begins with shivering and a loss of feeling in the extremities. Within minutes of being immersed in cold water, a person can become confused and lose muscle control. By keeping capsized boaters afloat, life jackets also enable them to conserve energy and get out of the water or be rescued.

The following simple steps can make a cold water boating expedition much safer:

  • always wear a life jacket — new styles and camouflage patterns, including float coats, make wearing a life jacket much more comfortable;
  • dress properly for the cold — layered clothing can provide insulation and trap air to hold warmth;
  • avoid cotton clothing — wool and many synthetic materials are good choices, but cotton wicks cold water in toward the body;
  • never boat alone; and
  • let family members or friends know where you’re going and when you plan to return.

Boating can be an excellent way to hunt or fish in cold weather, but be safe. Planning ahead for the possibility of a cold water accident can save a life.


Retired2hunt's picture

Good Info for All States


This is very good infomation for all states.  Kansas - kudos to you for publishing it!

I have seen first hand what happens when somebody falls into cold deep water with all their heavy clothing on and no life saving vest or jacket on.  The search and rescue divers pulled him out about 30 minutes later and after efforts to save him the individual died.

I have a camo life jacket that I wear in all weather - not just the cold weather boating situations.  Many people sit on them as cushions for their back ends.  That is fine if you are in a canoe in 3 or 4 feet of water and you are 5 foot in height or larger.  If the water is deeper in places than your height then wear your life jacket!  It just may save your life one day - and your son or daughter will thank you for it.

Great info Kansas!



numbnutz's picture

These are some great

These are some great reminders to waterfowler hunters and also fisherman. Most of my fishing is done during the winter months and one wrong step and it will make for a very bbad day. I have a friend from work who has sunk his bout once whilr out duck hunting. His shot gun went off shooting a hole in his boat and he didn't make it to shore before his boat was sumerged. He swam about 100 yards in ice cold water and spent the next 2 days in the hospital dealing with hypothermia and a couple other injuries. I myself have slipped in a river while fishing and have had my wadders fill up with 40 degree water and almost sweep me away down river. So veryone be safe this winter and make it home to your loved ones.