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Boating Tips - Jet Boats, Fishing Boats, Pontoons in PA



Boating and Alcohol: A Deadly Mix


Contrary to popular belief, alcohol isn't digested like food, it's absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the stomach walls. Food in your stomach slows down alcohol absorption, but the final amount of absorption is the same. The liver burns or oxidizes alcohol out of your body at a steady rate. If you drink faster than the alcohol can be burned, there will be a greater level of alcohol in your blood.

Almost everyone has heard or experienced the fact that alcohol impairs balance, vision, coordination and judgment. Balance is one of the first things you lose when you consume alcohol. The problem is that you may not notice this reduction in ability and a small unstable boat can be very unforgiving. Alcohol affects vision by acting as a relaxant which affects the control of small muscles that focus both eyes on the same object. The results can be fuzzy or double vision, loss of depth perception, loss of peripheral (side) vision and or the ability to distinguish between colors, particularly red and green, such as the running lights on an approaching boat. Alcohol also affects the ability to coordinate arm and leg movements. A drunk boater will have great difficulty trying to swim to a life saving device, let alone put it on, despite their sober ability.

If you go boating and drinking in a familiar environment and nothing goes wrong, you return safely to the dock. After you do that several times it reinforces the feeling that you can handle the situation. Then you believe you can safely drink and boat. However, if you are suddenly placed in an urgent situation where you must make a critical judgment decision, you may fail. You will have just experienced a loss of your ability to process information, but then it's too late.

Legislation


The Pennsylvania Fish and Game Commission, says legislation is in the works which would make penalties for boating under the influence the same as driving a motor vehicle under the influence. A boater caught operating his vessel under the influence may face the following penalties :
First Offense: Fine $250 - $5,000, possible jail up to 90 days, loss of boating privileges for 12 months. Second and Third Offense: Will result in increased fines and jail time. Homicide by water-craft results in fines of $5,000 - $15,000 and jail time of 3 - 7 years.

Cold Water Accidents


More than half of the fatal boating accidents in Pennsylvania occur in the "out of season" months when the water is cold. These fatalities are caused by hypothermia, the extreme loss of body heat, which impairs the human body into unconsciousness and eventually death.
The body's major heat loss areas are the head, armpits and groin area. Over 50% of heat is lost through the head. Cold water robs the body's heat a minimum of 25 times faster than cold air. If you should capsize or fall overboard, get out of the water immediately. Keep your head out of water to prevent heat loss.

Most boating fatalities involve small boats such as canoes, rowboats, and powerboats with less than a 10 horsepower motor. Most boats, even when filled with water, will support the weight of its occupants. If possible, right your boat, re-enter it and then pail the water out. If the boat cannot be righted, climb on top of it.

Physical exercise such as swimming or treading causes the body to lose heat at a much faster rate then remaining still in the water. Blood is pumped to the extremities and quickly cooled. Few people can swim in 50 degree water. Wear a personal flotation device (PFD) and use a defensive posture in the water. The Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP) and huddle will conserve body heat if you cannot climb out of the water.

Personal Flotation Device

Heat Escape Lessening Posture


Boating Tips

Boating Tips

PFD*

HELP*

Do not give a hypothermia victim alcohol! Contrary to popular belief, a couple shots of brandy or whiskey will not warm you up. You may feel warmer since the alcohol opens up the blood vessels close to the skin, but actually, you are greatly increasing your heat loss. Cold water is dangerous enough. You don't have to add the problems associated with alcohol to further decrease your survival time.

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