Harbormaster Department urges boaters to be prepared for autumn conditions
As the days slide farther into fall, boaters face a unique set of safety issues. Warm days collide with deceptively cold waters, greatly increasing the risk of hypothermia even on a “T-shirt” day.
Weather can change quickly. And if you run into trouble, the summer crowds have gone, which leaves few potential rescuers to help.
To ensure all boaters, anglers, and sailors get home safely, the Wareham Harbormaster Department offers the following tips and guidelines:
- Wear A life jacket. Cold water can rapidly decrease strength; a personal floatation device can buy you more time if you fall overboard.
- File a "Float Plan." This can be as simple as letting a family member know where you are going and what time you expect to return, or a more detailed, written plan for longer trips, which can be left on a windshield, given to a friend, or dropped off at the Harbormaster office, Coast Guard station or marina. When someone knows you’re overdue, they can alert the authorities.
- Have working communication equipment. Always have an operational VHF radio and all the Coast Guard required safety equipment. Have an Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) for backup, and make sure your cell phone is fully charged.
- Prepare for an emergency. Dress appropriately, have additional clothing layers available, and make an emergency survival kit consisting of nonperishable food, water, a flashlight, extra batteries, a fully-charged handheld or portable VHF radio, and a survival blanket. Be sure to store all items in a water-tight container that floats.
- Stay on top of the weather. Check weather reports prior to departing and pay attention to any changes in weather during your voyage.
- Perform a safety check. Make a check-list of all necessary equipment, and make sure your vessel is sound and in good operational order.
Float plans are available at the Wareham Harbormaster Department, or download a copy at www.boatus.com/seaworthy/assets/doc/FloatPlan0810.doc.
For more boating safety tips and information, visit the Wareham Harbormaster Department’s link at www.wareham.ma.us.