Wear A Life Jacket If Hunting From A Boat
HARRISBURG, PA – -(AmmoLand.com)- Duck hunters hunting from a boat in Pennsylvania are urged to wear a properly-fitted personal flotation device (PFD) while on the water, advised John Dunn, Pennsylvania Game Commission Game Bird Section supervisor.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, every year several hunters die from drowning and hypothermia. Many waterfowlers do not consider themselves boaters, Dunn said, so they often look past the preventive measures.
“Many hunters have a mindset that life jackets are uncomfortable and too bulky, therefore they get in the way,” Dunn said. “But today’s life jackets are comfortable. In fact, the Coast Guard approved manual inflatable life jackets offer great freedom of movement. Float coats are another good alternative. Available in hunting colors and patterns, they double as both outerwear and a flotation device.”
Trouble often can start before the boat even leaves the shore, Dunn mentioned, because the watercraft’s weight capacity is exceeded. To avoid overloading, hunters should check the hull for the capacity plate to gauge how much gear and/or how many people can be carried safely.
“When you have a crew of hunters, with decoys and equipment, and dogs, a boat can easily become unbalanced, especially if the wind comes up,” Dunn said, “Not only is it unsafe to overload a boat, exceeding the limits posted on the capacity plate is also illegal.
“Sudden immersion into cold water is one of the leading causes of boating fatalities in the Commonwealth. It places a severe strain on bodily systems that can lead to hypothermia or, worse, cardiac arrest. Survivors of cold-water accidents have reported their breath driven from them on contact with the water.”
Anyone falling into cold water should immediately ensure that their and any companions’ PFDs are intact, and work to find a way to exit the water or right the watercraft. Cover your mouth and nose – if possible – to prevent inhaling water.
If you can’t get out of the water immediately and the shore is too far, raise your knees and wrap your arms across your chest to help reduce heat loss through the body’s core.
“Most important,” Dunn suggests, “get into the routine of making the life jacket part of your hunting equipment, and wear it.”