Warmer spring air is here, water temperatures remain dangerously cold

Friday, May 2, 2014

USCGAUX_75_BDarien, CT. — The Coast Guard Auxiliary is advising boaters who may be beginning their preparations to launch their boats that water temperatures remain dangerously cold.

“One of the primary roles of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is recreational boating safety; with these temperatures, if not dressed for the environment, an average sized person will be hypothermic within one hour,” said Public Affairs Officer Lou DiGiusto. “If an accident occurs, boaters are reminded to stay with the vessel and try to remain above or out of the water at all costs. Do not attempt to swim for shore, even if land is in sight.”

In only about 10 minutes, boaters exposed to cold water may have deteriorated strength and may not be able to pull themselves back into their vessel. It is vitally important when boating in waters at these temperatures to avoid boating alone and remember to dress for the water temperature, not for the air temperature. Also, be mindful that children and smaller adults will succumb more rapidly to exposure to cold water.

Here are a few reminders and recommendations to assist boaters in planning spring outings:

  • Avoid boating alone. Bring a buddy.
  • Dress to swim and in accordance with the water temperatures – not the warmer air temperatures.
  • While on the water, wear life jackets that are designed to keep your head out of water.
  • The Coast Guard Auxiliary encourages all boaters to wear a life jacket while boating. Find more information about life jackets at www.uscgboating.org.
  • Provide a float plan to someone reliable remaining ashore to include your route, destination, number of people aboard and the estimated time of return. Ask them to contact the Coast Guard if a trip has gone beyond the return time indicated.
  • Purchase and use a marine band VHF-FM radio. Many areas of the experience poor signal areas that may impede mobile phone use. VHF-FM radios provide a more reliable means of  broadcast communication while underway. Most mobile phones are not waterproof while there are many weather and waterproof styles of VHF devices available.
  • Purchase and register a personal locator beacon and attach it to your life jacket. These beacons will automatically send an alert to rescue units if submerged in water.

“When walking pets along Long Island Sound, lakes and rivers, please remember to keep them safe by utilizing a leash”, said DiGiusto. “Migratory birds that have returned to the area are tempting targets for dogs that are inclined to charge after them in spite of the cold water. Ultimately, if not kept secure, beloved pets may be running straight into a life-threatening situation.”

This article was based upon a previous USCG article on the same subject.

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