The sun is out and the weather is getting warmer making for a fantastic boating season. However, the arrival of warmer weather also means that the chance of spring and summer storms increases which can lead to flooding. Although it may be tempting to take your boat out on your home rivers or lakes while the water is high or even go boating in an area that used to be a field or park but is now covered in water, it is imperative to stay away for your safety and the safety of others.
Some of the dangers that can arise when your local waterways are flooded include:
- Submerged hazards and debris such as entire trees, fence posts, parts of buildings and other structures can be hidden beneath the water’s surface.
- Strong currents can knock power poles and their lines and electrical equipment into the water. This can create energized areas of water where electric shock is a possibility.
- Faster currents make it much more challenging to operate your boat when the current is strong and rapid.
- Markers such as buoys and beacons might be moved or damaged when an area is flooded and cannot be relied upon for safe navigation.
- Water is still very cold this time of year even if the air temperature has started to warm up. Cold water significantly increases the risk of hypothermia and can lead to cold shock.
If you absolutely must go out on your boat when your local waterways are flooded, practice the following safety protocols:
- Do not boat alone. Have an extra set of eyes and hands to look for submerged objects.
- ALWAYS wear a good fitting life jacket. If you don’t have a life jacket, you can find a Life Jacket Loaner station near you at www.boatingsafety.com/map.
- Carry a device that can be used to contact emergency personnel – such as a VHF radio, satellite phone, or personal locator beacon.
- Bring along a lot of rope and practice your knots before heading out in case you need to use the rope to tie up your boat or to throw to someone who has fallen into the swift water. Do not enter the water to rescue anyone or anything during flooding.
It is important to remember that there are so many ways to have a wonderful boating experience. Going out in flood waters is incredibly risky and can cause serious harm. But remember, the best way to avoid the hazards of flood water is to stay away them.
Stay safe and keep boating!