Many of the serious and even fatal injuries that occur on the water are endured by fishermen. In large part, this is due to errors in loading the boat that lead to the boat capsizing or to individuals falling overboard. Even more tragically, many of the injuries suffered while fishing could have been averted if the individual had been wearing a lifejacket. Fishermen should be especially careful when heading into areas of strong current or extremely cold water. Choppy water can be especially dangerous in a flat-bottomed boat, which tends to be less stable than a boat with a v-shaped hull. Boats that are less than sixteen feet in length are especially prone to tipping over, so it is essential to be prudent about how such a boat is loaded. One should never jump onto a boat, but should carefully step aboard in the middle of the boat. Gear should be distributed evenly around the boat, such that no part of the boat sags. In particular, avoid overloading the stern, as this area will tend to sink a bit anyway when the boat is in motion. Fishermen should avoid standing in a small boat, as this tends to exaggerate any imbalances. Every boat should have a posted recommendation for weight of cargo and passengers; many of the accidents suffered while fishing come from exceeding the recommended capacity of the boat. Besides those injuries related to boating, the most common source of injury while fishing is weather-related. Every year, many fishermen suffer injury or death because they are caught off-guard by inclement weather. Fishermen are advised to check a local forecast before heading off into a remote location. Finally, there are always a few injuries sustained because of sharp fishing equipment. In general, it is a good idea to keep knives and spare hooks stored away when they are not in use, and, if fishing in a group, to designate a certain area for working with these sharp tools.
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