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Office of Public Information (609) 882-2000
Lt. Gerald Lewis - ext. 6516
Sgt. Stephen Jones - ext. 6513
Sgt. Julian Castellanos - ext. 6515

November 21, 2008

NJ State Troopers Offer Safety Tips for Cold Weather Boating
Advice especially appropriate for waterfowl hunters in
light of 2008 tragic accidents

With the second tragic waterfowl hunting accident this year, the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau is offering some important safety tips for those intrepid hunters and anglers who venture out on the water during the cold weather.

Always wear a life jacket.

  • Life jackets are an essential component to safe boating. There are many styles of life jackets available in various camouflage patterns that complete the hunting ensemble.

Prepare properly

  • Place your mobile phone in a waterproof plastic bag and keep it on your person
  • Let someone know where you're going, when to expect you back and what your boat looks like, along with its vessel registration numbers
  • Check the weather forecast
  • Speak with locals to learn about local boating hazards
  • Bring charts and maps
  • Check all safety equipment including VHF radios, GPS devices, and emergency locator beacons and flares
  • Pack a first aid kit robust enough for significant injuries that could occur while hunting.
  • Make sure your boats drain plug is in place

Dress to protect against hypothermia

  • Water temperature below 70 degrees is considered cold enough to trigger hypothermia. Body heat is lost 25 times faster in water than in air of the same temperature. Dress in layers that will trap body heat even when wet. Wool and Polypropylene are good materials for such conditions. Avoid cotton fabrics.

Follow all boating regulations regarding capacities and equipment requirements.

  • This includes having a wearable, Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board. Extra floatation devices such as cushions are a great idea.
  • Check the capacity plate of the vessel and be certain not to overload

If you should find yourself in the water

  • Relax and stay with the boat. Try to climb out of the water and on top of your capsized boat to wait for someone to rescue you.
  • Do not worry about trying to salvage gear. Anything that falls overboard is worthless compared to the value of your life.

Here are some facts about the two accidents this year:

February 9, 2008 - Three snow goose hunters lost their lives. Back Creek, Fairfield Twp., Cumberland Co.

  • Were not wearing PFDs
  • Two died of hypothermia, after falling into the water and rendering their cell phones inoperative, which were found on their person.
  • One hunter has still not been located
  • Never informed family or friends about their hunting trip or exact location. Most boaters call this a float plan, and it can even be passed on to a marina operator.

November 15, 2008 - Four hunters in jon boat that overturned on the Mantua Creek, Paulsboro, Gloucester Co. Three rescued and one still missing.

  • A 12-year-old boy was the only one of the four wearing a PFD
  • Subject that is still missing was not wearing a PFD

According to U.S. Coast Guard national statistics for 2007:

  • November has the highest ratio of deaths to boating accidents with 27% of accidents resulting in death. For accidents in the higher latitudes, this can be attributed to the colder water temperatures.
  • Three-quarters of the drowning deaths while boating were involving vessels of 16-feet or less
  • Two-thirds of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, 90 percent were not wearing life jackets.

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