Cooler Temperatures Bring New Hazards

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Although the summer boating season may be behind us, many boaters continue to frequent the waters of Lake Michigan. The Coast Guard would like to remind boaters to take additional steps to ensure safety during cooler weather.

As the temperatures begin to drop and winter storms start wrecking havoc on Lake Michigan, boaters should remember that chances of hypothermia increase. Hypothermia starts when a person’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees; this can occur rapidly in cold water. Also, the weather can change quickly and endanger unprepared boaters.

“We are in an interesting time of the year on Lake Michigan as there are still a few nice days ahead of us and boaters may want to capitalize on them. It is important for boaters to remember that as water temperatures drop, hypothermia becomes a true danger,” said Capt. Luann Barndt, Commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan.

To better prepare for time out on the water, the boating public is encouraged to take extra care to increase their safety. These steps include the following:

  1. Leaving a float plan with family or friends,
  2. Wearing a Coast Guard approved life jacket,
  3. Outfitting your boat with a marine-band radio and GPS,
  4. Ensuring you have lifesaving equipment onboard such as flares and a Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB),
  5. Dressing for the cold with additional layers, and
  6. Always being aware of the weather forecast and mindful of changing conditions.

The Coast Guard would like to remind the boating public that these extra safety measures can greatly increase your chances of rescue and survival if an emergency situation should occur.

Boaters are also reminded to ensure their vessels are well secured to the pier. The stronger winter winds can easily break loose a vessel from an unsecure mooring. The Coast Guard will conducted searches on unmanned vessels that are adrift; these searches can cost taxpayers thousands of dollars and divert valuable Coast Guard assets.

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