DEEP Launches Campaign to Raise Awareness about the Dangers of Boating in Cold Water
Warm spring air and cold water can create dangerous conditions, especially for paddlers
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”) reminds all boaters that even as air temperatures rise this spring, water temperatures take much longer to warm up and immersion in cold water presents substantial danger to recreational boaters.
From March 1 through the end of May, DEEP will be conducting a “Cold Water Safety Campaign” to raise awareness of the dangers of cold-water immersion through social media, special events, and in-the-field outreach. DEEP will be conducting targeted safety messaging to educate boaters – especially paddlers – about using proper equipment, practicing safety techniques, wearing a life jacket, and avoiding dangerous situations during the cold-water period. Over the last six years, Connecticut has suffered six paddler fatalities during the cold-water portion of the boating season from March 1 through May 31.
Connecticut has many avid paddlers who enjoy getting out on the water as soon as the winter weather breaks. While the early spring air temps can sometimes warm to 50o F or 60o F in March, DEEP warns that water temperatures can be still be below 40o F. Boaters who operate in these conditions should be extremely cautious and carry all the proper safety equipment. These boaters should always be prepared to deal with a sudden cold water immersion. DEEP wants boaters to be safe as they enjoy their time on the water. The Cold Water Safety Campaign expects to share tips to keep Connecticut boaters safe.
DEEP offers a number of good boating practices to remain safe while boating in cold water:
- ALWAYS WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET – Connecticut law requires any boaters using canoes, kayaks, rowboats and stand-up paddleboards to wear a properly fitting life jacket between Oct. 1 and May 31. If you end up in the water, it will make you more visible to other boaters and will keep you afloat, significantly improving your chances for survival.
- DO NOT PADDLE ALONE– Always paddle with a partner and know how to get back into your boat should you fall overboard. When paddling with a partner, it is easier to get back into a boat or reach shore safely.
- DRESS APPRPROPRIATELY -Paddlers should dress for the water temperature not the air temperature.Water temperatures can vary greatly around the state during the spring, but all are still below 68oF which is considered cold water. Cold-water immersion increases the risk of cold-water shock and involuntary gasp reflex which is a leading cause of drowning.
- FILE A FLOAT PLAN –Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Make sure you let the person know when you are home safely and identify who to call if you don’t.
- MAINTAIN A PROPER LOOKOUT –Damaged docks, pilings and trees may be floating down rivers and into Long Island Sound. Boaters should be especially vigilant when they get out on the water to look for and avoid floating debris.
To learn more about cold water boating and paddling in Connecticut, visit the DEEP website at https://portal.ct.gov/deep.