Please select your home edition
Pantaenius FBW Comprehensive 728x90

The cold hard facts: winter waters can kill

by NSW Maritime 7 Aug 05:09 UTC
Keeping safe on cold waters © NSW Maritime

Cold water is a lesser-known but significant factor in boating fatalities and serious injuries in NSW, with almost 30 per cent of fatalities in the last 10 years linked to cold water.

Centre for Maritime Safety Director Peter Harvey is urging all boaters to take extra safety precautions when heading out on cold water this winter and beyond.

"Boating is a great pastime but in winter there are additional risks that boaters need to be aware of," Mr Harvey said.

"Water below 15 degrees is considered dangerous but temperatures at that level and below are commonplace across NSW waterways at this time of year, and in alpine areas all year round.

"If you fall into cold water, cold shock can set in very quickly and you're at serious risk of hypothermia, or dangerously low body temperature. Wearing a lifejacket at all times can save your life."

NSW Maritime A/ Executive Director Alex Barrell said a lifejacket can help manage the initial cold shock, help conserve energy and give you time to get back into your vessel or wait for assistance.

"If you do fall in, try to get back onto your vessel as quickly as possible or get as much of your body out of the water as you can. Only swim for shore if it's close by and you're sure you can make it quickly," Mr Barrell said.

"If you have no other choice but to stay in the water, stay with the vessel and huddle with anyone else who is in the water to reduce the loss of body heat.

"If you're by yourself, retain heat by drawing your knees to your chest, wrapping your arms around your knees and clasping your hands together," he said.

The Centre for Maritime Safety and NSW Maritime is committed to educating the NSW boating community on managing the risks associated with cold water.

Key tips to stay safe include:

  • Always wear a lifejacket, over warm clothing and/or wet weather gear
  • Plan your trip and check the weather regularly as conditions can change quickly
  • Know your boating environment and be aware of the water temperature
  • Avoid boating alone - head out with family or friends
  • If you're boating in an open runabout, take special care as these vessels are the most prone to capsize and swamping.
Find more information on boating in cold water here

Related Articles

Inflatable lifejacket self-service clinics
These clinics follow the successful Old4New mobile lifejacket program NSW Boating Education Officers conduct free Inflatable Lifejacket Self-Service Clinics across New South Wales during the boating season each year. Posted on 3 Oct
Zero tolerance boating blitz this long weekend
One death on any NSW waterway is too many NSW Maritime operations team will take to the waterways in a statewide safety compliance blitz this long weekend. Posted on 3 Oct
Cold snap poses additional risk for boaters
Boaters across NSW are advised to take extra care with gale force westerly winds forecast Boaters across NSW are advised to take extra care with gale force westerly winds and a severe drop in water temperatures forecast from today until mid-next week. Posted on 22 Aug
Top tech for optimum safety on Sydney Harbour
Safety on Australia's most iconic waterway is in for a boost NSW Maritime Acting Executive Director Alex Barrell said the new eight-metre NSW Maritime patrol boat would be operated on Sydney Harbour by boating safety officers who provide on-water safety advice and help to boaters 365 days a year. Posted on 11 Aug
Boaters advised to take extra care
Heavy rain and gale force winds along the South Coast and Central Coast Boaters are advised to take extra care with heavy rain and gale force winds forecast along the South Coast and Central Coast early week. Posted on 13 Jul
Maritime safety is critical
Boaters have been asked to stay on dry land due to COVID-19 restrictions NSW boaters are urged to take extra care and always wear a lifejacket if they need to be out on the water at the current time, after a number of recent incidents. Posted on 18 Apr
Boaters encouraged to drop off expired flares
Expired flares are classed as explosives and must be disposed of properly Boaters on the South Coast will be able to dispose of their expired marine flares safely and easily this month at various expired flare collection points. Posted on 16 Mar
Free lifejacket clinics this weekend
Boaters who attend the clinics will be eligible to receive free lifejacket parts kits NSW Maritime A/Executive Director NSW Maritime Alex Barrell said people can attend sessions at Hovell Tree Park at Albury tomorrow between 1pm and 5pm, Mulwala Water Ski Club Posted on 5 Mar
Fires and floods impacting NSW waterways
Director reassures the community that recovery efforts are under way NSW Maritime Executive Director Maritime Mark Hutchings today reassured the community recovery efforts on the NSW waterway network are well under way. Posted on 21 Feb
Countless missing navigation markers and debris
NSW, Australia, conditions are unsafe in many areas Boaters across NSW are being warned to be on high alert for navigation hazards with significant debris and missing navigation markers after the weekend's rain. Posted on 10 Feb
Marina Exchange FOOTER 138 South - Marlin 695 Series 2 - FOOTER