Get ready for Wisconsin fishing season with these fishing safety and first aid tips.
Fishing safety best practices
- Wear a life jacket: When on the water, you and any passengers should wear a life jacket. Even if you are an experienced swimmer, a life jacket will protect you if you’re injured.
- Carry a first aid kit: Replenish your first aid kit each year.
- Plan for the weather: 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.
- 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.
- Be responsible with alcohol: Alcohol can impair your judgement. If you do drink, limit yourself wisely and don’t drive the boat.
Heat stroke and hypothermia
Watch for signs of heat stroke like hot, dry skin or profuse sweating. Take the impacted person out of the sun to a cool area and keep them hydrated. If they are nauseated, vomiting or confused seek emergency medical care.
Beer and fishing may seem like they go together on a hot summer day, but alcohol actually works against you. “Heat can make intoxication more pronounced,” said Liz Kracht, Marshfield Clinic Health System injury prevention coordinator. “Alcohol can rapidly dehydrate someone and cause more medical problems.”
Conversely, hypothermia is a risk in cooler weather or if you fall into cold water. Remove wet clothes, wrap the person in a dry towel or blanket and get to a heat source. Get medical help if they are confused, drowsy, shivering, slurring speech or have trouble controlling body movements.
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,” Kracht 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. Bandage small cuts and watch for redness, increasing pain and pus, which are signs of infection. 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.
Training is available to learn first aid safety tips to stop bleeding. Marshfield Clinic Health System is provides training for central Wisconsin through Marshfield Medical Center at 715-387-9675, or visit stopthebleed.org for online courses or training offered near you.