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Part Five Boating Safety

Work Hard. Play Hard. Operate Your Boat Safely.

You've loaded your boat with fuel, food and friends. You're on the water and have the wind in your hair. It's midday and the sun is sending its fiery rays. You look down and find your skin turning pink. It's okay. Just put on a little sunscreen. Then, about an hour later, you begin to feel some cramps in your stomach and legs, and you haven't been in the water swimming. An hour after that, you experience excessive sweating, headache, nausea and dizziness. What's happening? It's the progression of a heat stroke, a life-threatening reaction to too much sun. Your body's cooling system is shutting down and taking the rest of you down with it.

Heat stroke can happen anywhere, anytime, especially during the summer months, and being on the water only intensifies the sun's power because of the water's reflective qualities. Here are some American Red Cross tips to managing the hot sun while catching the rays:

    • Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect some of the sun's energy. It is also a good idea to wear a hat or use an umbrella.

    • Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine; they dehydrate the body.

    • Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid foods high in protein that increase metabolic heat.

    • Avoid using salt tablets unless directed by a physician.

    • Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the early morning.

    • Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Take time out to find a cool place. If you recognize that you, or someone else, are showing
      the signals of a heat-related illness, stop activity and find a cool place.

Heat-Related Terms and Treatments

You may hear the term "heat wave" thrown around a lot this summer, but what is the official definition and how does that affect you? Here some meanings, symptoms of heat-related illnesses to watch for and their treatments:

    • Heat Wave: More than 48 hours of high heat (90º F or higher) and humidity (80 percent or higher) are expected.

    • Heat Index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how hot it really feels with the heat and humidity. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15º F.

    • Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms usually in the abdomen or legs, and can be loss of water and salt from heavy sweating causes
      the cramps.

    • Treatment for Heat Cramps: If you are caring for a person who has heat cramps, have him stop activity and rest. If the person is fully awake and alert, have him
      drink small amounts of cool water or a sports drink. Gently stretch the cramped muscle and hold the stretch for about 20 seconds, then gently massage the muscle.
      Repeat these steps if necessary. If the victim has no other signs of heat-related illness, the person may resume activity after the cramps stop.

    • Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is less dangerous than heat stroke. It typically occurs when people exercise heavily or work in a warm, humid place where body
      fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Fluid loss causes blood flow to decrease in the vital organs, resulting in a form of shock. With heat exhaustion, sweat does not
      evaporate as it should, possibly because of high humidity or too many layers of clothing. As a result, the body does not cool properly. Symptoms include cool, moist,
      pale, flushed or red skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness; and exhaustion. Body temperature will be near normal.

    • Treatment for Heat Exhaustion: Get the person to a cooler place and have him rest in a comfortable position. If the person is fully awake and alert, give a half glass
      of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not let him drink too quickly. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse. Remove or
      loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as towels or wet sheets. Call 911 or the local emergency number if the person refuses water, vomits or loses
      consciousness.

    • Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is life-threatening. The victim's temperature control system, which produces sweat to cool the body, stops working. The body temperature
      can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. Symptoms include hot, red and dry skin; changes in consciousness;
      a rapid, weak pulse; and rapid, shallow breathing. Body temperature can be very high, sometimes as high as 105º F.

    • Treatment for Heat Stroke: Because heat stroke is a life-threatening situation, help is needed fast. Call 911 or your local EMS number. Move the person to a cooler
      place. Quickly cool the body. Wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. If you have ice packs or cold packs, wrap them in a cloth and place them on the victim's
      wrists and ankles, in the armpits and on the neck to cool the large blood vessels. (Do not use rubbing alcohol because it closes the skin's pores and prevents
      heat loss.) Watch for symptoms of breathing problems and make sure the airway is clear. Keep the person lying down.

A lazy day boating in the sun is a favorite pastime, but you can't let the thrill of the activity distract you from prudence. Heed these warnings and end the excitement bronzed by the sun, not overheated by it.

For more information about fire safety log on to: http://www.redcross.org/services/hss/tips/heat.html.

Bibliography:

    • All Volunteer Yacht Club (AVYC)

    • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

    • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

    • United States Power Squadron (USPS)

Sea Ray is proud to offer this safety information to increase your boating safety and enjoyment. These documents are provided for your personal information only, and you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any of these materials shall be at your sole risk. Sea Ray reserves the right, in its sole discretion and without any obligation, to make improvements to, or correct any error or omissions, in any portion of the information. Sea Ray hereby disclaims all liability to the maximum extent permitted by law in relation to this information and does not give any warranties, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any of the information provided.

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