We have experienced hotter-than-usual heat this summer and, when this happens, boaters often head to the water for some relief. However, some might be unprepared for what it takes to withstand an extremely hot day, particularly when high humidity is added into the mix. Below are five tips from the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety.
- Create shade. Direct sunlight can make the air feel 10 to 15 degrees warmer. Reduce the time you spend in it. If you don’t have a cabin or bimini top that offers sun protection, wide-brimmed hats, loose-fitting, moisture-wicking clothing or fishing neck gaiters are the next best thing. Of course, a high-level sunblock is a must for sunburn prevention.
- Keep extra water on board. Yeah, that’s a no-brainer. However, you’d be surprised by how many boaters bring just
enough water for a single day’s outing. On these super-hot days, boaters might drink water like it’s coming out of a fire hose! One tip: Keep a supply of bottled water in a locker or dry bilge area next to the hull, below the waterline. The water will stay cooler there than in the air temperature.
- Know how to stay cool safely. Of course, boaters can take advantage of the best way to stay cool: jump in! But don’t jump off a moving vessel. Find a safe, out-of-the-way anchorage, drop the anchor and enjoy!
- Know the signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when the body is unable to cool down. It can happen gradually or suddenly. Telltale signs are heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fainting, skin hot to the touch, nausea or vomiting. Infants and children are especially susceptible. Immediately moving the victim to a cooler environment and providing lots of fluids can help buy time for a heatstroke victim until you reach first responders.
- Have a way to communicate. This is not the time of year to be stuck out on the water with an unexpected breakdown or other issue. Not only is the temperature a significant stressor, atmospheric conditions can bring sudden and powerful storms, especially in the afternoon. Anyone who has lived in this area knows how suddenly a thunderstorm can develop late in the day. Ensure your marine VHF radio is operational, and bring your cellphone, keeping it dry and charged.
– Greg Fonzeno is the public education officer and commander of the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit (Flotilla 22) at Allatoona Lake.