Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winter Dock Safety

Despite the recent warm, sunny weather we've been experiencing, the Lake of the Ozarks is looking to get some snow this weekend.  From hypothermia to slippery docks, Winter can create many problems for dock owners here at the Lake of the Ozarks. Summerset Boat Lifts wants to make sure you are prepared for the Winter weather. has some great tips for Winter safety on water, docks and ice from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

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Dock Safety 

Boat Docks have seen major damage from ice and heavy snow combinations in the past. The extra weight that these weather conditions bring can cause structures to collapse. However, you should not attempt to remove snow and ice from your docks during inclement weather. Docks can become very slick and you don't want to end up in the water accidentally. If you need to be on your dock during icy conditions, please wear a life jacket at all times. Also, use the buddy system to make sure you have help if you were to slip into the water. Remember to treat any damaged electric wires around the docks as if they were live. Any boats operating in areas where major dock damage has occurred, should operate at a no wake idle speed to prevent further damage to docks.

Water Safety 

If you're going to be around the Lake in cold weather, be extra careful. If your body is suddenly immersed in cold water, cold shock will occur. This is when the blood vessels constrict in order to conserve core body heat. This response can in turn cause a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure. In some cases, this can result in cardiac arrest. Cold shock can also cause involuntary gasping reflex, causing the person to inhale water and possibly drown. Hypothermia could also be a concern. The body loses heat 25 times faster in water than in air. In cold water, life jacket use becomes extremely important because hypothermia can cause the inability to perform the most basic tasks. If you find yourself in a situation where you take an unexpected plunge into cold water, it is important to get out of the water and into dry clothes as soon as possible. If the person is conscious, try giving them a warm drink. Hypothermia can be deadly even if you're wearing a PFD, so it's important to never be near the water alone in Winter. If no one knows you're in trouble, no one can help.

Ice Safety 

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While the Lake is known for recreation during the Summer, many cold water anglers come to the Lake during the winter too! Children are often attracted to frozen ponds for skating and playing. However, ice forming on lakes, rivers and ponds post a great risk due to the natural variables. It is impossible to judge the strength of ice by its appearance or daily temperature. With the major temperature fluctuations we experience during Missouri Winters, the construction of ice can be greatly affected. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind if you're participating in Winter recreation activities at the Lake of the Ozarks: 
  • Wait to walk out on the ice until there are at least four inches of clear, solid ice.
  • Measure ice thickness in several locations, starting in areas where you know the water is shallow. If the ice thickness is less than three inches, it is best to stay off the ice. Also, there is clear ice and white ice. White ice has air or snow within it and is weaker. This ice should be considered suspect for recreational use.
  • Stay off river ice. River currents quickly change ice thickness overnight or between different parts of the river. Currents can slow ice formation and cause existing ice to be much more fragile.
  • Never go onto ice alone. A buddy may be able to rescue you or go for help if you get into trouble. A companion can attempt a rescue by extending a pole or branch to the victim or throwing a rope or knotted clothing. Remember: If the ice could not support their weight, it will not support your weight.
  • Wear a life jacket. Life vests or float coats provide excellent flotation and protection from hypothermia. Wearing layered winter clothes can increase your chances of survival if you do go through the ice.
  • Take safety equipment with you. Include ice picks, ice staff, rope, and a small personal safety kit—a pocketknife, whistle, screwdrivers with string, and cell phone—in your pocket.
  • Avoid driving on ice. It is very difficult to see open holes in the ice and increases your chances of ending up in the water unexpectedly.

Never leave children unattended on or near ice covered bodies of water and make sure they understand that danger involved. Many ice victims start out trying to rescue someone else. Rather than going onto the ice to help someone, call for emergency services. You should extend a ladder, pole or rope to the victim with something that will float. If you find yourself in a position of needing rescued, stay calm. Face the direction you came from and spread your arms out on the unbroken ice. Kick your feet and try to pull yourself onto the ice. Once out of the water, don't attempt to stand. Lying on the ice will keep your weight distributed. Roll away from the spot you fell into and then carefully crawl back to solid land. 

Summerset Boat Lifts is here to make your Lake activities safe and enjoyable any time of the year. For all your Lake of the Ozarks boat lift needs, contact us at 573-348-5073. We're proud to offer the Galva-Hoist product line of floating boat lifts, designed to withstand the roughest waters at the Lake of the Ozarks. From sales to installation and service, our employees are ready to help. We want to earn your trust and your business!

1165 Jeffries Road Osage Beach, MO  65065

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