Hunters, anglers reminded to prepare for cold temperatures

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Cooler temperatures may be tempting people to head outdoors to spend hours fishing or hunting, but state officials remind them to be prepared for the chill.

The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' Conservation Police Officers say being prepared to spend time in cold weather is very important, especially for people who are going out on the water.

They say the safety of people out in the chill is their own responsibility.

“Whether you're on water or land, hunters should always dress appropriately for the weather and utilizing layers allows for optimum responses to changing temperatures,” said Major Scott Naff, the Assistant Chief of the conservation police. “Hypothermia can set in quickly and can be very dangerous, especially in water where the cold water removes heat from your body 25 times faster than the air.”

According to a release, recreating on the water during this time of year can be especially dangerous because falls into cold ponds, lakes or rivers can incapacitate a person with hypothermia very quickly.

Anyone who is heading out on the water is urged to have a friend come along who can assist if there is any need, because being alone minimizes chances for survival if a person does fall in the water.

The release says boating-related accidents have a greater probability of being fatal during the winter months because of the frigid water temperatures.

People are also reminded to wear a life jacket when out on the water, as that can increase a person's chance of survival if they fall overboard.

DGIF says life jackets with foam buoyancy work better in colder temperatures and water than inflatable ones.

The state agency also says following manufacturer's weight limits in a boat and using weight distribution techniques can help reduce the chance of falling overboard or a boat capsizing.

Boaters should also let their families and friends know where they are going to be, where they will be launching from and when they expect to return to shore.

Weather forecasts are very important information for people out on the water as conditions can change quickly, with shifting winds and storms potentially causing dangerous water conditions in a short period of time.

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