Fall hunting season is well underway and the winter season is just around the corner. More hunters and anglers are on the water, putting themselves in potential danger if they don’t use common sense precautions.
While hunters may not think of themselves as boaters, if they are using boats, canoes and kayaks it’s important they have the right gear for being on the water – and that includes a life jacket.
Life jackets are designed for a boater’s recreational water activity – from inflatable belt-packs for anglers to U.S. Coast Guard-approved float coats for hunters. Inflatable life jackets provide buoyancy when inflated by a CO2 cylinder, and inherently buoyant life jackets use foam or other buoyant materials to stay afloat. Inflatable life jackets should be inspected prior to use, particularly when around sharp equipment like fishing gear, which can cause tears or leaks that may go unnoticed.
In 2015, the Coast Guard counted 4,158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Where cause of death was known, 85 percent of drowning victims in recreational boating accidents were not wearing life jackets.
Other essential boating gear includes visual distress signals, sound producing devices, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) http://www.savedbythebeacon.com/ or personal locator beacon (PLB), fire extinguishers, navigation lights, and correct permits and decals. All boaters, including hunters, should always leave a float plan with at least one person on land so they know where to find them if needed. Also be sure to check your local state’s hunting regulations. For boaters storing their boat in the off-season, please visit safeboatingcampaign.com for additional safety tips.
Remember, it's not enough to just own a life jacket – you must always wear it!