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Capsizing Causes Hundreds Of Boating Injuries Annually

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, March 04, 2009 7:39 PM EST
Category: On The Road, Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Vacation Safety, Boating Safety, Safe Boating, Capsizing, Personal Injury

The Coast Guard rescues about 200 capsized boats in the Gulf every year.

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IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ EPIRB box on fishing boat/ author: Clipper

 

The news does not appear to be good for the three men still missing off the west coast of Florida.

The Coast Guard called off a search at 6:30 Tuesday night in the Gulf of Mexico after their boat overturned this weekend.

Still missing are Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith a free-agent defensive lineman, and William Bleakley, a former University of South Florida player.

All boarded the 21-foot Everglades fishing craft which belonged to Cooper. They set out about 6:30 Saturday morning from Clearwater and were reportedly anchored about 35 miles off shore.

The Coast Guard found a fourth man, Nick Schuyler, one of Beakley's USF teammates Monday sitting on top of the overturned boat. With water reported to be about 61-degrees, Schulyer likely survived because he had a life jacket on and crawled on top of the boat. 

The Detroit Free Press reports Schuyler told friend Scott Miller that after the boat capsized, Bleakley swam underneath to retrieve the life jackets and a cushion which he used.  Shuyler  told the St. Petersurg Times that one of the NFLplayers gave up and took off his jacket and drifted away a few hours after they capsized. Then the other NFL player did the same while Schuyler and Bleakley stayed with the boat.

Schuyler says Bleakley decided he could swim to a light he saw in the distance. Schuyler has relayed a couple of different versions of the story, so the authenticity is questionable at this time.  He does say the boat capsized around 5 p.m. Saturday when they tried to pull the anchor aboard. 

Schuyler is now recovering in the hospital from dehydration and hypothermia and may be released soon.   

Reporter Emily Nipps of the St. Petersburg Times talked to reporters with the Washington Post

Hypothermia

The biggest danger to boaters, even on a warm sunny day is hypothermia. That occurs when the body’s temperatures dips below the point of normal functioning.  When the body hits 68 to 77 degrees, the heart stops. When Schuyler was rescued, he reportedly had a body temperature of 89 degrees.

Generally 80 degrees or above does not cause hypothermia. The water in the Gulf was reported to be in the mid to low 60s.

In water that cold, survival time is one to six hours. Being overweight and larger or in good physical condition retains body heat longer than being thin, a child, or not in good condition. 

Schuyler has told rescuers that all of the men clung to the boat about 12 to 16 hours before slipping away in the water.  

Boater Safety

Personal Floatation Devices PFDs come in different sizes and should be strong enough to hold up a 200 pound man, even if water logged.  Boaters should wear life jackets or PFDs at all times. 

The Coast Guard advised boaters to keep a bag with communication devices.

If in trouble, an emergency position-indicating radio beacon or EPIRB, sends a maritime distress signal to an overhead satellite.  The price of these range from $200 to $1,500.  Also an ELT, emergency locator transmitter or PLB, a personal locator beacon, which is for a person in distress are used to send out radio beacons to get rescuers on the site within a precious few hours to increases the odds of survival.

A Global Positioning Satellite unit, (GPS) can help the Coast Guard locate you more quickly. Forget cell phones that far off shore.

And boaters are always advised to take a boating safety course. The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers one.

Rescues

Some have wondered whether these two NFL players and a former USF football player are receiving more attention from the Coast Guard than others would.   

But the Coast Guard has been on the scene for the 200 boats that have capsized in the Gulf of Mexico over the past five months.

The Coast Guard reports to CNN that capsizing is a leading cause of boat accidents.   

In 2007 alone, there were 398 accidents and 204 deaths associated with capsizing.  Collisions are another cause of accidents.    #


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