A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Fishing safety: Don’t get caught unprepared

Grandpa setting up fishing pole for granddaughter - Fishing Safety

Help young children bait, cast and remove fish from hooks to keep fishing a safe experience for everyone.

It’s the time of year when anglers take to the water hoping to net the big catch.

Get ready for your next fishing trip by reading these safety tips from Dr. Brady Didion, a Marshfield Clinic family medicine physician.

Plan for the weather

Don’t get caught off guard when a mild day turns cold and rainy or hot and humid. Check the forecast before you hit the water and dress in light layers for changing temperatures. Get off the water if the weather turns too hot, cold or stormy.

If someone in your party shows signs of heat stroke, get him out of the sun to a cool area and keep him hydrated. Get emergency medical care for someone who is nauseated, vomiting or confused.

Someone who falls in the water on a cold day may show signs of hypothermia, including uncontrollable shivering. Remove wet clothes, wrap the person in a dry towel or blanket and get to a heat source.

Supervise children

Stay within a few steps of children whether you’re fishing on a dock or a boat. Children should wear life jackets at all times when fishing.

Help young or inexperienced anglers bait, cast and remove fish from hooks. Explain why it’s important to have a lot of space around you when casting. Barbless hooks can minimize the trauma of getting a hook stuck in your skin.

Know first aid for wounds

Even if you handle fish hooks carefully and keep fillet knives covered when you’re not using them, accidents happen.

“Always assume a fish hook or knife is dirty,” Didion said. “Wash the wound with soap and clean water and keep the area clean.”

Only remove a fish hook if you can retract it without creating a larger wound. Deeply imbedded fish hooks should be removed by a medical professional.

Bandage small cuts and watch for redness, increasing pain and pus. These are signs your cut is infected and you need medical care. Deep cuts that won’t stop bleeding and deeply imbedded hooks require a trip to the emergency department or urgent care. You may need a tetanus booster and antibiotics.

Bypass booze

Beer and fishing may seem like they go together, but alcohol actually works against you when you’re casting lines in the summer heat, Didion said.

“Alcohol can make medical problems worse and make people hazardous to themselves and others,” he said. “Heat can make intoxication more pronounced.”

If you do drink, limit yourself wisely and don’t drive the boat.

Fishing trip checklist

Make sure you have these items in your boat before heading out on the water:

  • Lifejackets for every member of your party
  • Drinking water and food
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellant
  • Sunglasses
  • Cellphone
  • Two-way radios
  • Flashlight
  • Dry clothes
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Blanket
  • Fishing license
  • First aid kit

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