Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch reports that on 11-1- 2016 at 06:20 a.m., the Cass County Sheriff's Office received a report of a capsized boat with two adult male duck hunters in the water southeast of Battle Point on the east side of Leech Lake. Using cell phone mapping technology, Deputies were able to quickly locate the hunters, who had fallen into the water but were on the top of the capsized boat when located. Conditions were windy and dark at the time of the rescue. Both hunters were wearing floatable type coats. Sheriff Burch would like to remind duck hunters and fall fisherman of some basic tips from the National Weather For Cold Water Safety. (
AlwaysWear Your PFD - A PFD greatly reduces the chance of sudden drowning due to cold shock and swimming failure. With few exceptions, cold shock causes people to immediately lose control of their breathing. As a result, many of them suddenly drown — even though they can swim. Cold water drowning can occur instantly if cold shock causes a person to gasp while their mouth is submerged. That particular phenomenon used to be called "Sudden Disappearance Syndrome" and it's worth emphasizing that you don't suddenly disappear and sink to the bottom if you are wearing a properly secured PFD. Drowning can also occur during the first several minutes of cold shock due to swimming failure or inhaling water as a result of wave splash. If you aren't wearing a PFD, you will drown as soon as you can no longer swim or tread water.
Always Dress for the Water Temperature - Because cold water can kill you. Not wearing thermal protection when you paddle on cold water is gambling with your life. The air temperature is irrelevant. The only thing that really matters when you fall into cold water is whether you are dressed for immersion. Dressing for the water temperature means a lot more than simply donning a wetsuit or dry-suit before you head out. It means knowing with certainty that the garments you';re wearing provide enough thermal protection to keep you warm and allow you to function - physically and mentally - should you wind up in the water. Cold water immersion is always a race against the clock, and depending on how well prepared you are, it can be a desperate race or one you can walk rather than run.
Dressing for the water temperature means:
1) Wearing thermal protection like a wetsuit or dry-suit, so that you don't experience cold shock.
2) Wearing enough thermal protection so that you remain warm, calm and able to function — physically and mentally - while you're in the water, whatever the water temperature happens to be.
3) Wearing a wetsuit that's thick enough to protect you from the cold and snug enough to work properly.
4) Wearing a dry-suit that doesn't leak, is not excessively burped and has enough warm clothing underneath it to protect you from the cold.
5) Wearing enough protection to keep you functioning if you have to swim or get towed to shore, and if you can't get to shore, enough protection to keep you alive long enough to be rescued.
Field-Test Your Gear - Cold water gear is your lifeline, if you capsize. Will your gear really keep you warm? How do you know? Wetsuit style, fit and thickness are critical to your safety. So is the clothing worn under a dry-suit. Does your gear work like it's supposed to?
How can you find out? Should you wear a hood? What kind of gloves work best for you?
Say, for example, that you paddle on 50F water. How much time will your gear buy before you become too chilled to function? Does it interfere with a rescue or roll? Field-testing will answer all of those questions and more. As the name implies, you test and practice with your gear "in the field" at the water temperatures you'll encounter if you capsize. That's what expert paddlers do and it's the reason they're intimately familiar with their gear and all of its strengths and weaknesses.
This may seem perfectly obvious, but it's surprising how many people paddle around in wetsuits, dry-suits and other assorted cold water gear without ever having gotten into the water and really checked it out. Field-testing can be fun, it will open your eyes and it will definitely build your skill and confidence as a paddler.
The Cold Facts
Valuable Things You Can Learn From Field-Testing:
• Whether new gear is working properly.
• Whether you're able to use it effectively.
• Whether there are any gear-related challenges, limitations, weaknesses or problems that need to be solved.
• How much thermal protection you need at different water temperatures.
• Whether or not the system of thermal protection you own is up to the challenge of protecting you or doesn't have a prayer of keeping you warm in the water on which you're going to paddle.
While wearing all of your cold water gear, can you...?
• Deploy, inflate, use and stow a paddle float
• Find the grab loop on your spray-skirt.
• Deploy, use and stow a tow rope.
• Find and use the release tab on your tow rope when you're upside down.
• Attach your spray-skirt.
• Pump out your cockpit — with the skirt attached.
• Properly set up and roll.
• Effectively use a GPS, cell phone or VHF radio.
• Activate a strobe light or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).
• Operate a clip or zipper.
• Open a box of Walker's Shortbread Cookies.
• Find and blow your whistle.
• Turn on your headlamp.
• Assemble a spare paddle.
• Open a container of flares and fire one.
• Do a boat-to- boat rescue — as rescuer and as victim.