DEEP Urges Limited Outdoor Exposure and Water Safety As Heat Wave Continues This Weekend
(HARTFORD, CT) – With high temperatures continuing this weekend, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) urges all residents and visitors to limit outdoor exertion and prolonged sun exposure, and for anyone considering getting in or on the water this weekend to prioritize water safety.
Ozone (smog) levels are expected to be Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG) in parts of Connecticut this weekend. Ozone levels on Saturday are forecast to be USG on the Connecticut coastline and Long Island Sound extending into coastal areas of Rhode Island. On Sunday, ozone levels are forecast to be USG from the Ridgefield/Danbury area to the northeast, up to and through Hartford County.
When air quality is forecast to be USG, there is an increased likelihood individuals in sensitive groups will develop respiratory symptoms and may experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Children and people with asthma or other lung disease are most at risk for experiencing these symptoms. Active children and adults, and people with impaired lung function or cardiovascular disease should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Peak ozone levels generally occur between 2-8 PM EDT, so make sure you get your activity or exercise in before or after these times to minimize adverse health effects.
“The heat wave we’ve been experiencing will continue this weekend, and ozone levels will be high and impacting sensitive groups in parts of the state,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Governor Lamont activated Connecticut’s extreme hot weather protocol earlier this week, and that remains in effect through the weekend. With the hot weather, many people will be looking for ways to cool off. DEEP urges anyone considering visiting a State Park or swimming area this weekend to be safe, limit sun exposure and physical exertion, and drink lots of water. If you’re considering getting into or on the water, know your limits, and follow DEEP’s recommended water safety guidelines.”
DEEP recommends the following water safety guidelines for anyone getting in/on the water:
- Know your limits: this includes swimming ability, physical fitness, and medical conditions.
- If you’re not a strong swimmer, take a swimming lesson before getting in the water. Swimming skills can help save lives. People of all ages should consider signing up for a swimming class offered at local YMCAs or municipal parks and recreation departments.
- Children, inexperienced swimmers, and all boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets if entering the water.
- Swim only in the designated areas and swim with a buddy.
- Inflatables such as tubes and floats are not a substitute for a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
- Drink responsibly: Excessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and reaction ability. Even prescription drugs may impair judgment. Swim and boat sober.
- Parents and guardians: Watch your children. It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and this can occur silently.
- Be aware of underwater hazards: Natural swimming areas can have sudden drop-offs, holes, large rocks, or tree roots that can’t be easily seen from the surface. Diving and jumping into these waters can be dangerous.
For boaters specifically:
- Always wear your life jacket: Connecticut law requires anyone in canoes, kayaks, rowboats, or stand-up paddleboards to wear a properly fitting life jacket between October 1 and May 31. If a boater ends up in the water, a life jacket will make someone more visible to other boaters and will keep them afloat, significantly improving chances for survival.
- Do not paddle alone: Always paddle with a partner and know how to get back into the boat should someone fall overboard. When paddling with a partner, it is easier to get back into a boat or reach shore safely.
- File a float plan: Make a travel plan, including details on location and time of departure and return, and provide it to someone. Give them a call when boating has ended, and identify who to call in case of emergency.
More information on swimming safety: Swimming - CT State Parks and Forests
More information on boating: Boating and Paddling (ct.gov)More information on air quality and what you can do to help: Ozone Action Day; Air Quality and Health (ct.gov)