“Both men in the canoe survived the accident, but they were within minutes of dying from hypothermia,” said Sergeant Jim Porter of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.
Sudden immersion in cold water makes it difficult, if not impossible, for boaters to keep their heads above water and stay afloat. Boating fatality statistics have shown that wearing a lifejacket gives boaters the best chance of survival in the event of an accident, especially in cold water.
Small craft like kayaks, canoes and rafts are the most vulnerable to capsizing, but all boaters should be prepared and follow these guidelines:
- Start enjoying boating the right way, with a course to develop skills and safe operation. Paddle sports instruction is offered by local clubs, outfitters and many park and recreation departments.
- Always wear a properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Washington state requires all children 12 years of age and younger to wear a personal flotation device when boating.
- Scout the condition of the lake, river or waters before getting underway.
- Be a competent swimmer.
- Be constantly alert for unexpected hazards.
- Never use alcohol or drugs when boating or floating in a river. They dull important survival reflexes and impair decision-making skills.
- Children should never boat or float a river without the close supervision of an adult.
- Know and practice river rescue and self-rescue techniques. Going in the water is always a possibility. Be prepared.
The National Weather Service offers online weather and river information useful for trip planning at the following sites for the state of Washington:
For more information on water safety and drowning prevention, visit the following websites:
- For a brochure on hypothermia and boating: www.parks.wa.gov/publications/