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Cold Water
Danger of Cold Water

The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Program defines “cold water” as water where the monthly mean low temperature is normally 59ºF (15ºC) or less. (See 46 CFR 28.50, 46 CFR 117.200, and Navigation and Inspection Circular (NVIC) 7-91). If not rescued, a person could die within 30 minutes. Cold-water immersion is the cause of many boating-related fatalities.

Best Practices

Read BoatBeat’s General Best Practices, in addition to the following tips, for more recommendation and information.

  • Appeal to Non-Traditional Boaters: Share some “cold weather boating” tips to appeal to hunters and anglers.
  • Hazards and Response: Discuss the hazards and response for cold water shock or hypothermia.
  • E.L.P.: One of the things a boater can learn in a boating safety course is the H.E.L.P. position. H.E.L.P. stands for Heat Escape Lessening Posture and is a survival method used to conserve heat if you have fallen in to cold water.

Fact Sheets

Dos and Don’ts of Cold Water Boating

Stages of Cold Water Immersion

Reporters Play a Critical Role in Boating Safety

Browse All Fact Sheets

Expert Sources

U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Auxiliary & Boating Safety

National Safe Boating Council (NSBC)

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

National Water Safety Congress

Browse Federal and State Point-of-Contacts

External Resources

Cold Water Bootcamp USA