Cold weather boating? Keeps these tips in mind

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Winter in the water …. A GRDA Police boat makes its way across the waters of Lake Hudson on a cold January day. If you plan on doing any wintertime boating, GRDA is sharing some important cold weather boating tips you should keep in mind.

The temperatures have been going up and down so far in 2019, but that is pretty typical for January in Oklahoma. However, even on the cold days many folks still consider this time of the year to be perfect for a visit to GRDA lakes. In fact, boating, fishing and hunting take place all around the lakes, all around the year.

And that means that a commitment to safe boating should be a year-round activity as well. If you plan on hitting the water this season, here are a few cold weather boating tips you should keep in mind:

  • First of all, cell phones: There is less traffic on the water this time of year, which means fewer boaters around to assist you if you get into trouble. Therefore, having a working a cell phone is vital for emergency or non-emergency help.
  • A whistle – attached to your life jacket – is also an important for winter-time boaters. If you can produce a loud and effective call for help with a whistle, you will use less energy than shouting for help and waving your arms.
  • If you do have trouble and go into the water, remember that cold water can rob your body of its heat 25 times faster than cold air and that means the time of exposure needed to experience hypothermia is drastically reduced. Thus, if your boat does capsize, your main priority is to get as much of your body out of the water as possible. If possible, climb on the overturned vessel or nearby debris, or get to the nearest shore or dock.
  •  Also, in cold winter temperatures, wet clothing is actually colder than less clothing and can lead to hypothermia more quickly. Remove as much of the wet clothing as possible, as soon as possible. You will be warmer with less clothing than with wet clothing.
  •  Of course, whether you are boating in January or July, it is also important to file a “float plan” any time you visit the water. Let someone know where you intend to be boating, who is going with you and when you expect to return.
  •  Finally, and always, wear a life jacket.

 Your friends at GRDA hope you keep these tips in mind when you head to the lake this winter.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.