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Stay Safe from Excessive Heat When on the Water

Avoid heat-related illnesses while boating and fishing as core body temperatures increase during these hot summer months.

Southern California is blessed with long, warm summers that last from July to September, with average daily high temperatures above 81 degrees Fahrenheit, according to weatherspark.com. High heat exposure is the silent killer that can bring on exhaustion, heat stroke, and other heat-related illnesses, especially when combined with strenuous activities like battling large ocean fish or racing your sailboat. While you may think being close to the water is safe on hot days, it’s better to be prepared.

 

The temperature is the same whether you are in the sun or the shade. However, being in direct sunlight makes it feel 10-15 degrees hotter, according to shadingtexas.com.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, here are the dos and don’ts for high-temperature exposure.

 

  • Do – Slow down and reduce strenuous activity. If it’s possible to get your boating and fishing done midday, exercise that option to avoid laborious tasks at peak temperatures.
  • Do – Dress in lightweight, nonrestrictive, light-colored clothing. Live life by the water in 50+ UPF protection apparel.
  • Do – Drink plenty of water or other nonalcoholic fluids. Alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate your body.
  • Do – Eat light, easy-to-digest foods.
  • Do– Find or create shade if you are outdoors for extended periods. If your boat doesn’t have a cabin or bimini top that offers sun protection, wear a hat and loose-fitting, moisture-wicking clothing or a fishing neck gaiter and sunglasses. Reef-safe sunblock is another must-have onboard for UV prevention.
  • Do– Get wet! Take frequent dips in the ocean or lake or mist yourself with a water bottle. When inside, take regular cool baths or showers and use cold compresses to cool off.
  • Do – Apply high-SPF sunscreen frequently when outdoors.
  • Do – Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms of heat illness. Symptoms can include painful muscle cramps and spasms, heavy sweating, weakness, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, altered mental state, and possible unconsciousness, among other symptoms.

 

  • Do Not– leave children, the elderly, or pets in the car for any reason, for any length of time. According to NOAA, a dark dashboard or seat can reach temperatures from 180 to over 200 degrees F. Check on those around you.
  • Do Not- stay in the sun for long periods.
  • Do Not- take salt tablets unless directed by a physician.
  • Avoid alcoholic beverages; they can dehydrate you and increase your risk of heat stroke and other potentially fatal heat-related illnesses.

This recommendation may seem like a no-brainer, but carrying extra water onboard or in your backpack is a good idea. According to Boat US, boaters should keep a supply of bottled water in a locker or dry bilge area next to the hull, below the waterline. The water will stay cooler than the air temperature.

 

A float plan is important no matter what, but in case heat stroke or heat exhaustion sets in while you’re on the water, it’s good to have emergency contacts on land that know where you are and what you’re doing on the water that day.

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