Your checklist for safer boating this winter

Planning a winter boating trip? Make sure you know the risks.

Cold shock and hypothermia can take hold fast

Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops below 35°C. This affects your brain, heart and other internal organs and eventually you’ll lose consciousness, significantly increasing the risk of drowning.

Don’t be fooled by a sunny day, even when the sun is shining, water can be dangerously cold.

  • Reduce your capsize risk by not overloading your vessel, distributing weight evenly, and stowing heavy items as low as possible.
  • As always, it’s important to wear a lifejacket – it will help you manage cold shock, conserve your energy and prevent you from inhaling water. It will also give you more time to get back into your vessel or for someone to help you.
  • If you fall overboard, try to stay calm. Resist the temptation to swim, this increases the body heat loss, and stay with your boat. If you’re alone, the best option to limit body heat loss is the HELP position. Draw your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around your knees. Clasp your hands together so you’re in a tucked position and maintain it.
  • If you’re in the water with others, huddling is the best method of reducing the risk of hypothermia. Huddle close together to protect your chests and arms. This can reduce the rate at which your body loses heat and can increase survival time by up to 50 per cent.

Prepare for a safer day on the water

  • Engine fluids can thicken in cold weather, be sure to test and change your engine oil
  • Dress warm and carry extra clothing in case you get wet
  • Check your safety equipment and ensure everything is in good working order, including your torch, as it can get dark quickly
  • Check and monitor the weather, conditions can change quickly and you may have less time if things go wrong
  • Ensure you, and your passengers, know how to call for help

Before you hit the water

  • Log On with the Marine Rescue NSW app or on your marine radio VHF Channel 16, and Log Off when you return. We’ll quickly start a search if you don’t return as planned.
  • Wear a lifejacket, it could save your life