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DEEP Updates State Parks Status Ahead of Holiday Weekend

Provides Tips for Recreating Outside During the Heat Wave

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced today that due to yesterday’s rain, four state park beaches are closed to swimming after testing positive for the presence of indicator bacteria. The four state park beaches that are closed, Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic, Gardner Lake State Park in Salem, Kettletown State Park in Southbury, and Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret, will be resampled today (Friday) with results due back on Saturday.
DEEP also today announced that due to a shortage of lifeguards, Indian Well State Park in Shelton will not be staffed with lifeguards this season.  Additionally, Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Silver Sands State Park in Milford, and Black Rock State Park in Watertown may be staffed up to 5 days per week, rather than 7 days per week.
“Connecticut is not immune to the national shortage of lifeguards,” said Tom Tyler, Director of Connecticut State Parks. “Despite an exhaustive recruiting effort, unfortunately we have been unable to hire enough lifeguards to fully staff Indian Well State Park at this time. DEEP will continue to recruit and train additional guards as they are available, and hope to expand coverage during the summer. Visitors may call the park to inquire about lifeguards, and signage will be in place to let visitors know whether guards will be on duty.”
A full complement of lifeguards will be in place at the following state parks:
Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison
Rocky Neck State Park in East Lyme
Burr Pond State Park in Torrington
Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield
With the multiday heat wave, DEEP also reminds residents to take appropriate precautions when recreating outside.
“With the first major heat wave beginning today, it is understandable that residents will be outside camping, swimming, boating, and enjoying the hot summer weather.” said Commissioner Rob Klee.  “When at swimming areas, parents should keep a close eye on children, and swimmers should be honest about their own swimming abilities before getting into the water. It is also extremely important that everyone take the appropriate precautions because as a rule of thumb, when the temperatures are high, ozone levels are high. High temperatures and high ozone levels can be especially harmful particularly for our most vulnerable residents – children, the elderly and those with respiratory diseases and even the healthy adults working or exercising outdoors for a prolonged period.”
The DEEP offers the following recommendations when taking part in outdoor activities:
Safe Swimming
DEEP offers 23 designated state park swim areas – four on Long Island Sound and 19 inland lakes and ponds. Check the status of swimming areas at
  • Follow All Posted Beach Rules
  • Parents - Watch your Children
    It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and this can occur silently. Please ALWAYS watch your children; if you are more than an arm’s length away, you’re too far!
  • Be Aware of Underwater Hazards
    Natural swimming areas can have sudden drop-offs, inshore holes, large rocks or tree roots that can’t be easily seen from the surface. Diving and jumping into these waters can be hazardous. Please be careful of these unseen dangers.
  • Swim only in the designated areas, and stay where the lifeguards can see you
  • Take a Swimming Lesson
    Increasing your water safety knowledge and swimming skills can help save your life. People of all ages should consider signing up for a swimming class offered at your local YMCA branch, American Red Cross Chapter, or municipal parks & recreation department.
  • Drink Responsibly
    Excessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and reaction ability. Even prescription drugs may impair judgment.
State Parks
With the launch of the Passport to Parks program, day use parking fees have now been waived for vehicles with Connecticut registrations. With the hot weather expected for this weekend some parks will become full to capacity early in the day. Updated park closures will be posted on Facebook and on Twitter. If the park you intend on visiting becomes full, you can visit one of the 107 Connecticut State Parks that are presently open. Reminder that Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden, Wharton Brook State Park in Wallingford and the Windsor Locks Canal Trail State Park in Windsor Locks are all closed at this time. For a complete list of parks visit
It is important to note that shoreline parks may not have shaded areas. With the high temperatures expected for the next several day visitors should keep this in mind when deciding what park to visit.
Park visitors are also urged to help keep Connecticut State Parks clean by taking home all their trash, and following the backpacker’s ethos of leave only footprints and take only memories.
Safe Boating
When it comes to boating, Connecticut offers it all - streams, rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound, which offer a wide variety of opportunities for boaters.  DEEP offers the following safety tips for those going out on the water. Visit:
  • Take a safe boating  class
    A boating certificate is required to operate a registered boat.
  • File a float plan
    Complete your pre-safety boat check, and be sure to file a float plan with a friend or family member.
  • Paddle with a friend
    You will have help to get back in your boat or call for help if needed.
  • Obtain a free Vessel Safety Check
    Contact the DEEP Boating Division or your local USCG Auxiliary and US Power Squadron.  If you use a state boat launch, look for our Boating Education Assistants who will perform a free safety check.
  • Attach an “IF FOUND” sticker to your unregistered boat
    Write the boat owner's contact information on the sticker and affix to the boat. This contact information can help rescuers locate you faster in an emergency.
  • Wear Your Life Jacket
     Life jackets are more comfortable and lightweight than ever. Putting one on before heading out could save your life, so “Wear It Connecticut!” In our cooler Northeast waters, someone that falls in the water can lose their ability to perform necessary life-saving functions quite quickly. Falling into colder waters also invokes an involuntary gasp reflex – a number one cause of drowning. Additionally, attach a whistle to your life jacket. The sound of a whistle will travel farther than your voice and attract attention. A sound producing device is also required onboard all vessels.
  • Watch out for those in the water
    When waterskiing/tubing, shut the engine off when putting someone in the water, switching out equipment or retrieving the person.  Always approach the person in the water from the operator’s side.  Make sure there is a spotter, at least twelve years of age, who understands the importance of their job to watch the skier/tuber at all times and communicate immediately to the operator if the person falls off or signals they want to stop.
  • Drink responsibly
    Alcohol was a contributing factor for 46% of the victims that died in Connecticut boating accidents between 2008 and 2017.  Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion are all considered "stressors" common to the boating environment. They intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications by causing fatigue, which greatly reduces a boat operator's coordination, judgment, and reaction time.  The use of alcohol also makes the body more susceptible to the effects of cold water.
  • State Boat Launches
    Some boat launches will become filled to capacity, follow the DEEP Boating Division on Twitter for the latest updates.
Health Effects of Ozone Pollution
Elevated ozone pollution increases the likelihood of respiratory symptoms and breathing discomfort. Children and people with asthma are most at risk for experiencing symptoms. Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.  Peak ozone levels typically occur around 2 PM and remain elevated to 8 PM EDT, so make sure you get your activity or exercise in before or after these times to minimize health effects.
What You Can Do to Help Reduce Ozone Levels
DEEP recommends simple, common sense steps to reduce your contribution to air pollution:
  • Drive Clean
    Considered purchasing or leasing a plug-in electric vehicle. Learn more by visiting:
  • Drive Less
    Consider carpooling, vanpooling, using public transit or even telecommuting.
  • Save Energy
    Setting air conditioners to 78o and “Wait ‘til 8” to use energy intensive appliances like washing machines, dryers and dishwashers.
  • Be Aware of Your Air
    Understand the Air Quality Index and sign up to receive alerts so you will know when air quality is predicted to be unhealthy.
  • When you know there will be an unhealthy air day-make small changes to your routine:
    1. Refuel your vehicle after dusk and stop refueling when the nozzle clicks off,
    2. Avoid idling your vehicle unnecessarily,
    3. Delay mowing your lawn or using other lawn and garden equipment until evening,
    4. Limit your outdoor activity in the heat of the day, and
    5. Refrain from recreational wood burning. 
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