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Boating Safety in Winter Requires Preparation and Precaution

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RALEIGH, N.C. (Dec. 3) – This time of year, the rule for boaters is when you are on the water, stay out of the water. The danger of hypothermia greatly increases when submerged, even if briefly.

“Winter may be the off-season for most recreational boaters,” said Capt. Chris Huebner, boating safety coordinator for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “But for waterfowl hunters, it’s as busy as ever. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, more hunters die from hypothermia and drowning than gunshot wounds.”

Capt. Huebner offers this advice for all winter boaters:
Wear a life vest and insist passengers wear one also
Wear protective clothing
Carry a cell phone in a zip-lock bag programmed with an “in case of emergency” number
Let someone know your destination and your expected departure and return times

Capt. Huebner adds this advice for waterfowl hunters:
Wear a life vest (“It bears repeating,” he says. “Don’t be in such a rush to get hunting that you leave it off.”)
Don't overload the boat, especially with passengers
Keep hunting dogs prone in the center of the boat
Never move about the boat with a loaded firearm

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission administers free boating education courses that cover safe operation, legal requirements, handling emergencies and other information. The course is required for 14-16 year olds to operate a personal watercraft in North Carolina. To check availability, click here or call (919) 707-0031.
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