Home' Afloat : AFLOAT May 2017 Contents Take monthly with water May 2017 39
WINTER IS COMING
The weather has now turned well and truly,
and the delights of winter are now just on our
doorstep. Cooler conditions bring challenges but
also opportunities because there can be brilliant
days out on the water with less people. It boils
down to taking steps to ensure you and your
loved ones remain safe at this time of year.
In winter, water temperatures drop, and in
alpine waters, they commonly drop to a very
chilly five degrees! One of the most dangerous
scenarios is if you unintentionally end up in the
water, because in cold water, your body can lose
heat up to 25 times faster than normal, which
can lead to cold shock and hypothermia.
And of course, smaller craft – under 4.8m – like
runabouts and paddle craft, are more susceptible
to capsize and swamping than larger vessels.
This is one reason why lifejackets are a must to
wear particularly in the cooler months.
So if you do fall into the water:
• Avoid panicking as ‘cold shock’ can force
involuntary inhalation and cause you to
swallow dangerous amounts of water
• Grab hold of your vessel or a floating object
• Try to get out of the water if possible
• Limit body heat loss by holding your upper
arms down your sides and crossing your
lower arms across your chest, and raising
your knees and holding them together
• Huddle with other people – this can reduce
the rate your body loses heat and can
increase survival time by up to 50 per cent.
• Minimise your movement and only swim to
shore if it’s really close.
In very cold water, such as on alpine lakes and
rivers, the 1-10-1 rule is useful:
1 minute – you need to manage cold shock
for about one minute before it will pass. Focus
on keeping your composure, controlling your
breathing and keeping your airway clear. A
lifejacket is critically important at this stage –
and even more so if conditions are choppy or
10 minutes – this is about the time you have
for effective self-rescue. After this, your hands,
arms and legs are likely to lose strength due to
muscle cooling, making swimming and grasping
objects very difficult or impossible. Without a
lifejacket, drowning is likely.
1 hour – this is when hypothermia is
likely to set in, ultimately leading to loss of
consciousness. Hypothermia can be delayed
by drawing the legs up close to the chest and
wrapping the arms around them in a tuck
position (not possible without a lifejacket) or
by huddling together in a group. Without a
lifejacket, a hypothermia victim in deep water
will almost inevitably drown.
By always ensuring the weather is appropriate,
your vessel and its safety equipment is suitable
for the conditions, telling someone where you are
going and wearing a lifejacket, you’ll decrease
your risk of something tragic happening.
Check the weather and
water conditions before
you head out!
Before you head out, check the weather forecast
by visiting the Bureau of Meteorology at bom.
gov.au/marine/ or download their phone app,
and take particular note of:
• Any warnings in your area like storms,
fronts, and gale force winds
• The wind trends
• Wave conditions
• High and low tide details
It is the responsibility of the skipper (and that
includes the person operating vessels from
paddle craft and PWC, to yachts and ships) for
the safety of their vessel and all on board. You
must ensure the weather and conditions do
not put the vessel and people on board at risk.
And if you do head out, continually check the
weather conditions as weather can change very
quickly and survival times from immersion are
significantly less in the cooler months.
Wearing a lifejacket in all conditions is the
number one way to stay safe when boating.
A lifejacket more than doubles your chance
of survival if you end up in the water. And no
matter what kind of lifejacket you have – if you
look after it, it will look after you. Thoroughly
dry your lifejacket after use and store it in a
dry, well-ventilated place away from direct
The annual migration north is currently underway,
and if you’re lucky enough to come across these
majestic creatures you should:
• Keep at least 100 metres away from the whale
• If there are calves in the pod, keep at least 300
slow down and give them space
• Travel at a safe, no-wake speed, so you can
stop in time if you have to, and it also avoids
distressing or colliding with the animal
Penalties for non-compliance apply under the
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Regulation
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