Blog June 2017

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SURVIVING LIGHTNING

Posted On: June 30, 2017


We have all heard and seen more than our fair share of headlines involving lightning.

Boating magazine had an excellent article on “Surviving Lightning Strikes While Boating.”

We thought a lot of it was worth sharing, so we’ve excerpted the article here.

Powerful, dangerous, highly unpredictable — all are common descriptions of lightning. A direct strike that results only in ringing ears and a few roasted electronics would be considered lucky. Unlucky would be through-hulls blown out, a sunk boat or worse — possibly serious injury or death. While the odds of a boat being struck by lightning are only about one out of 1,000 boats in any given year, the dire consequences of a strike call for some techniques and strategies to avoid disaster:

Timing

A strategy of boating only on sunny, cloudless days may work well in places like Idaho and California, but that would mean almost never using the boat in places such as Florida, Louisiana and much of New England where storms boil up and move in quickly on hot summer days. Boaters should track VHF, Internet and television weather reports and make responsible decisions about whether to go boating depending on the likelihood of storms. Short-term forecasts can actually be fairly good at predicting bigger storms, but small, localized storms might not be reported. This is when knowing how to read the weather yourself can come in handy.

Lightning strikes typically occur in the afternoon. A towering buildup of puffy, cotton-white clouds that rise to the customary flat “anvil” top is a good indication to clear the water and seek shelter — or move out of the storm’s path if possible. That’s if the storm is at least somewhat off in the distance (most storms are about 15 miles in diameter and can build to dangerous levels in fewer than 30 minutes). If lightning and thunder are present, just count the seconds between the lightning and corresponding thunder and then divide by 5 — this will provide a rough estimate of how many miles away the storm is.

A storm that builds directly overhead might be less obvious until those pretty white clouds that were providing some nice shade moments ago turn a threatening hue of gray as rain dumps on you and the wind starts to howl or, worse yet, boom with thunder and lightning that are right on top of each other. Now is the time for a mad dash to the dock and shelter if close by. Like the National Weather Service says: “When thunder roars, go indoors!” If out on open water or too far from shore and shelter, it’s time to hunker down and ride it out.

Caught

Even though getting caught in a storm is not always avoidable, there’s still plenty that boaters can do to minimize the chance of a strike and lessen injury and damage if there is a strike.
We all learn in grade school that lightning seeks the highest point, and on the water that’s the top of the boat — typically a mast, antenna, Bimini top, fishing rod in a vertical rod holder or even the tallest person in an open boat. If possible, find a protected area out of the wind and drop anchor. If the boat has an enclosed cabin, people should be directed to go inside and stay well away from metal objects, electrical outlets and appliances (it’s a good idea to don life jackets too). Side flashes can jump from metal objects to other objects — even bodies — as they seek a path to water. Lowering antennas, towers, fishing rods and outriggers is also advised, unless they’re part of a designated lightning-protection system. Some boaters also like to disconnect the connections and power leads to their antennas and other electronics, which are often damaged or destroyed during a strike or near strike.

Under no circumstances should the VHF radio be used during an electrical storm unless it’s an emergency (handhelds are OK). Also, be careful not to grab two metal objects, like a metal steering wheel and metal railing — that can be a deadly spot to be if there’s a strike. Some boaters opt to steer with a wooden spoon and keep their other hand in a pocket if forced to man the helm during a storm, while others like to wear rubber gloves for insulation.

An open boat like a runabout is the most dangerous to human life, since you are the highest point and most likely to get hit if the boat is struck. If shore is out of reach, the advice is to drop anchor, remove all metal jewelry, put on life jackets and get low in the center of the boat. Definitely stay out of the water and stow the fishing rods. If all goes well, the storm will blow past or rain itself out in 20 to 30 minutes. It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes until after the last clap of thunder to resume activities.

Hit

Knowing what to do in a storm and having the best lightning-protection system installed on the boat is by no means a guarantee that lightning won’t strike. The immediate checklist for a direct hit is very short:

1. Check for unconscious or injured persons first. If they’re moving and breathing, they’ll likely be OK. Immediately begin CPR on unconscious victims if a pulse and/or breathing is absent — there’s no danger of being shocked by someone just struck by lightning.

2. In the meantime, have someone check the bilges for water. It’s rare, but lightning can blow out a transducer or through-hull — or even just blow a hole in the boat. Plug the hole, get the bilge pumps running, work the bail bucket or whatever it takes to stay afloat. An emergency call on the VHF is warranted if the situation is dire. If the radio is toast, break out the flare kit.

If there are no injuries and no holes or major leaks below, just continue to wait it out. Once the danger has passed, check the operation of the engine and all electronics. Even a near strike can fry electronics and an engine’s electronic control unit, cutting off navigation, communication and even propulsion. Some boaters stash charged handheld VHF and GPS units and a spare engine ECU in the microwave or a tin box for this very reason. These makeshift Faraday cages have saved equipment.

Obvious damage will need to be assessed and set right. Even those lucky enough to come away completely unscathed with no apparent damage should have a professional survey done just to be sure. Minor damage to through-hulls can result in slow leaks, and all manner of electrical wackiness can emerge — sometimes much later. It’s best to catch these issues right away and get that information to the insurance folks for coverage.

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WATCH FOR THESE SIGNS IN THE HEAT

Posted On: June 26, 2017

Keep these signs of heat exhaustion in mind this summer to avoid health hazards

As the temperatures rise, they pose a threat to people who are unaware of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when your body overheats, causing a variety of symptoms. As you and your family enjoy the summertime heat, it is important to remember these causes, symptoms and treatments of heat exhaustion to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.

Causes

When the temperature rises in the summer, the body is made to cool itself in a variety of ways. The body’s main method of self-cooling is through sweating. As sweat evaporates, it allows your body temperature to stay regulated; when sweat production is unable to cool the body down enough, heat exhaustion sets in.

Heat exhaustion is typically seen in people exercising strenuously in hot weather. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can also be caused by dehydration, which reduces the amount of sweat that can be produced; alcohol use, which affects the body’s ability to change its temperature; and wearing too many clothes.

Symptoms

Symptoms of heat exhaustion can occur quickly or can develop overtime, depending on what is causing the heat exhaustion. Typically, though, the symptoms are easy to catch if the person is aware of what heat exhaustion is. The symptoms of heat exhaustion typically consist of the following:

Moist, cool skin with goose bumps
Faintness or dizziness
Heavy sweating
Fatigue
Weak, rapid pulse
Nausea or vomiting
Muscle cramps
Headache
If the person suffering from heat exhaustion has a high body temperature above 103°F, call 911 immediately. This high temperature means that the person is past the stage of heat exhaustion and is suffering from a heat stroke, which can be life threatening.

Treatments

The first step to treating someone with heat exhaustion is to call a doctor or medical professional. As the CDC points out, heat exhaustion can sometimes lead to the much more severe heat stroke illness, which is considered a medical emergency. It is important to have a medical professional determine whether or not the victim of heat exhaustion is in danger of developing heat stroke.

Once a doctor determines that the person is not developing heat stroke and is instead suffering from heat exhaustion, then move the person to a cooler location. This can be into an air-conditioned building or simply into the shade. Once there, apply cool, wet cloths to the person’s body and have them sip water. If vomiting occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat exhaustion is easily preventable if you know the signs. Make sure to remember these warning signs of heat exhaustion as your family enjoys the summer weather. It can be a lifesaver.

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HOW TO REPORT A BOATING ACCIDENT

Posted On: June 23, 2017


HOW TO REPORT A BOATING ACCIDENT


No one can detail everything but here's a fairly comprehensive guide of steps to take if you get in an accident on the water.

Reporting a boating accident is not just the right thing to do, it is a requirement. Make sure you know the right procedures for reporting a boating accident.

 

While no one wants to think about having a boating accident, it does occur. The requirements for reporting an accident vary from state to state, but there are some basic rules of thumb that can help you figure out whether you have had an accident that should be reported. If you have, not reporting a boating accident is a criminal offense.

 

Some Guidelines for Reporting a Boating Accident

Once a boating accident has occurred, it is the responsibility of the boat operator to file a report on the incident. A written report must be made to the state agency that covers boating, the U.S. Coast Guard, or both, depending on the situation. If a passenger died within 24 hours after the accident or if someone involved in the accident required medical assistance beyond first aid, the report must be filed within 48 hours. If there was only damage to the boat and/or other property, the report must be filed within 10 days of the accident. Not filing a report is a crime.

What Information is Required?

A number of specific details are required when filling out a Boating Accident Report (BAR), including the name of the boat operator and where the accident occurred. Detailed information about the boat and information on all passengers, reported losses including injuries, loss of life, and property damages must be gathered to put on the report.. In addition, a summary of the incident is required, including date, time, place, people involved, and a description of the accident

Who is Responsible?

Reporting a boating accident begins the process of finding out who is legally responsible and therefore liable for the damages caused by the accident. In some cases, no one is at fault. In others, however, this is not the case. A person is responsible for the accident if they acted negligently. This is usually judged by whether or not they behaved as a reasonable boater would have in similar circumstances. If they did not follow all safety rules and precautions, then a jury may find them liable.

Penalties for Boating Accidents

 If a person is judged liable for a boating accident, they may have civil liability, criminal liability, or both. The liable party may be sued for medical expenses, wrongful death, property damages, or other losses. In addition, the state can bring criminal charges if the boater was boating under the influence (BUI). The operator may also be criminally liable if he or she was operating the boat recklessly or with gross negligence. These charges can result in large fines and/or jail time if the boater is convicted.

Boating Accident Attorneys

If you have been involved in a boating accident, it is a good idea to consult a boating accident attorney. These attorneys are personal injury attorneys who specialize in boating accidents and maritime law. They can advise on how to determine compensation for damages or losses. It is best to avoid making statements or signing anything related to an accident, particularly admissions of guilt, until after consulting a qualified attorney. This helps to protect your legal rights.

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FREEDOM DAY JUNE 19

Posted On: June 19, 2017

JUNE 19

Freedom Day, is a holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas, and more generally the emancipation of African-American slaves throughout the Confederate South.

From 1890 to 1908, Texas and all former Confederate states passed new constitutions or amendments that effectively disenfranchised blacks, excluding them from the political process. White-dominated state legislatures passed Jim Crow laws imposing second-class status. The Great Depression forced many blacks off farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, African Americans had difficulty taking the day off to celebrate.

From 1940 through 1970, in the second wave of the Great Migration, more than 5 million blacks left Texas, Louisiana and other parts of the South for the North and West Coast, where jobs were available in the defense industry for World War II

By the 1950s and 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement focused the attention of African-American youth on the struggle for racial equality and the future. But, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, the holiday has been more widely celebrated.  By 2008, nearly half of US states observed the holiday as a ceremonial observance.  As of May 2016, when the Maryland legislature approved official recognition of the holiday, 45 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized June 19 as either a state holiday or ceremonial holiday, a day of observance.States that do not recognize it are Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota

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SOME FATHERS DAY HISTORY

Posted On: June 16, 2017

Father’s Day has a history that goes beyond greeting cards.

The first known Father’s Day service occurred at the Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South in Fairmont, West Virginia, on July 5, 1908, thanks to the efforts of Grace Golden Clayton. Mrs. Clayton had asked her pastor, Dr. R. Thomas Webb, if a Sunday service could be held to honor fathers. While missing her own dad, who had died in 1896, she especially wanted to have a service in remembrance of the over 200 fathers who had died in the Monongah mining explosion that had occurred a few miles south of Fairmont on December 6 of the previous year. (It was the worst mining disaster in U.S. history, killing more than 360 men and boys, and leaving about 1,000 children fatherless.) Although the Fairmont service was the first known to honor fathers, it did not turn into an annual event, nor was the idea promoted (a large July 4 celebration in Fairmont and a tragic young death from typhoid fever having taken over the news at the time).

Several other people across the nation had similar ideas throughout the years, but Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd is credited for being the one to popularize it, starting events that led to Father’s Day becoming a U.S. national holiday.

Mrs. Dodd proposed to the Spokane Ministerial Association and the YMCA that they celebrate a “father’s day.” She chose the 5th of June because it was her father’s birthday

The idea received strong support, but the good ministers of Spokane asked that the day be changed to give them extra time to prepare sermons on the unexplored subject of fathers.

The first Father’s Day in Spokane, Washington, was observed on June 19, 1910 (the third Sunday in June), and became an annual event there. Soon, other towns had their own celebrations.

In spite of widespread support, Father’s Day did not become a permanent national holiday for many years. The first bill was introduced in Congress in 1913, but in spite of encouragement by President Woodrow Wilson, it did not pass. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.

Finally, in 1972, when President Richard Nixon was president, Father’s Day was signed a law declaring that it be celebrated annually on the third Sunday in June. It has been an official, permanent national holiday ever since.

 

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PREPARE TO BE BOARDED

Posted On: June 12, 2017


DID YOU KNOW THAT

Unlike any other law enforcement arm, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) may board your boat at their discretion — they need no search warrant, no provocation, and no reason other than ensuring your boat is in full compliance with all applicable federal laws and regulations.

I read this article in the Boating Times and thought it would be a good topic to re-explore.

Do you know what to do and say if you see a USCG vessel in the vicinity and hear their voice on VHF channel 16 (or across the water) hailing your vessel and ordering you to bring your boat to a full stop?

You have been stopped by highly trained federal officers who will soon impress you with their professionalism. Before they even step off their vessel onto yours, the very first question they will ask you is, “Without reaching for them or touching them, do you have any weapons on board?” Subtly but powerfully, the tone is set:  “I am polite. I am professional. And I mean business.” Let’s assume (and hope) that the answer to that question is “no” since an affirmative answer sets up a scenario outside the scope of this article.

Once your boat is boarded, the officers will be seeking compliance with regulations, starting with those applicable to all boat sizes:

  • Your actual registration needs to be aboard and current. If you just have a copy, that’s a problem, but if you have no registration, you have a much bigger problem.
  • The Hull Identification Number needs to be the same on your registration and on your boat (embossed into the transom, low on the starboard side). If they don’t match, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.
  • The registration numbers must be at least three inches, appear as a contrasting color to your hull, and be the most forward of any numbering or lettering on the boat.
  • If you have a Marine Sanitation Device (aka head or toilet), it must conform to regulations. As Long Island is a “No Discharge Zone,” an over-board, through-hull holding tank must be in the locked/closed position and the key must be under the control of the captain (no exceptions unless it can be seized closed or the handle can be removed in the closed position).
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BOATING ACCIDENTS

Posted On: June 09, 2017

BOATING ACCIDENTS

The United States Coast Guard defines a "boating accident" as one of the following three scenarios: (1) a boat passenger dies or becomes seriously injured; (2) a boat passenger disappears and death or injury is suspected; or (3) a vessel causes or sustains damage.

Boating accidents are therefore not limited to collisions, but may occur whenever a someone is killed, injured or disappears while boating.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

A number of different factors commonly cause boating accidents:

  • Significantly, over one third of all boating accidents involve a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. All states have criminalized boating under the influence (BUI) and often impose heavy fines on or incarcerate those convicted of such an offense.
  • Severe weather, such as strong winds or heavy rains also cause boating accidents. Sailors may experience difficulty in properly navigating and avoiding collisions, or in keeping a boat upright and afloat under certain weather conditions. Furthermore, lightning strikes may electrocute passengers or damage the boat or on-board electrical equipment. Extreme exposure to sunlight may also cause boat passengers to suffer heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.
  • Boat engines produce toxic carbon monoxide, which may cause death or serious injury if passengers are exposed to high concentrations of the gas.
  • Finally, accidents often occur when inexperienced boaters encounter dangerous or unfamiliar conditions. Boating accidents may be reduced by following the safety guidelines set forth by the United States Coast Guard.

Accident Liability

Generally, persons are at fault for a boating accident if they act negligently. Persons acts negligently if they fail to conduct themselves as a reasonable person under similar circumstances. A reasonable boater would typically adhere to all safety rules and precautions and be mindful of passengers and other boaters. A jury determines whether the boater met the "reasonable person" standard.

Persons who cause a boating accident may incur civil liability, criminal liability, or both. Victims of a boating accident may sue another boater for property damage, medical expenses, and other losses they have incurred as a result of the incident. Additionally, the state may bring criminal charges against a boater if the driver caused an accident while intoxicated or operated their vessel recklessly or with gross negligence.

Accident Reports

The boat operator must file an accident report when a boating accident occurs that causes significant personal injury or property damage. The exact circumstances under which a report must be filed varies between states. The accident report must be submitted to either the applicable state agency regulating boats, the United States Coast Guard, or both. If personal injuries or death result from the accident, the report must be filed within 48 hours of the accident. If the accident caused only property damage, the report must be filed within 10 days of the accident. Failure to report the accident is a crime.

Boating Safety Regulations

Federal and state agencies regulated boating safety. The United States Coast Guard is the federal agency designated as the National Recreational Boating Safety Coordinator. The Coast Guard is authorized to regulate the safety standards of boats and boating related equipment. The Coast Guard strives to prevent and minimize the effects of recreational boating accidents.

 

 

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BEWARE CARBON MONOXIDE

Posted On: June 05, 2017

Dangerous Gases

If you are on a boat, you are exposed to potential danger...

Carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream though the lungs by breathing in this dangerous gas. Exposure in a well ventilated environment is generally not a problem. Brief exposure in a more confined environment can cause sickness and prolonged exposure to higher concentrations can kill you. Since symptoms of carbon monoxide mimic seasickness or alcohol intoxication it is sometimes overlooked as nothing serious and those affected never receive the medical attention they need.

Tip: Maintain fresh air circulation throughout the boat at all times and maintain your vessel to assure peak engine performance. An improperly tuned engine is more likely to produce elevated levels of CO.

To avoid CO you should know the areas of where CO can accumulate such as inadequately ventilated canvas enclosures and engine compartments. If you are tied to a dock be certain exhaust ports aren’t blocked which can force exhaust back into the boat and if you are rafted to another boat be certain exhaust from one boat doesn’t enter the other.

Beware of Carbon Monoxide

  • Make sure you know where all exhaust outlets are and they are not blocked
  • Confirm that water flows from the exhaust outlet when motors or generators are running
  • Educate all passengers about the symptoms of CO poisoning and where CO may accumulate
  • Test the operation of each CO detector for proper functioning by pressing the test button
  • Open hatches or canvas enclosures if CO accumulation is suspected
  • When rafted to another boat be certain that exhaust flows freely into open air
  • Avoid swim platforms or swimming around or near a boat when the engine is running
  • Periodically examine the exhaust fixtures on your boat to be certain of proper performance
  • Always maintain your boat to peak performance to reduce the risk of CO production

 

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