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DEEP Begins Cold Water Safety Campaign

A Mild Winter Has Inspired Boaters to Get on the Water Early While Connecticut Waters Are Still Cold

(HARTFORD)—Boaters across the state have been taking advantage of mild early spring temperatures and boating activity is only expected to increase as the weather warms. Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) will be publicizing cold water safety through a targeted social media campaign to remind residents about the dangers of boating in the spring. 

Paddling during the early spring is a great way to enjoy the first warm days of the year and experience Connecticut’s waterways without the summertime crowds – but it comes with the hazards of water temperatures that remain dangerously cold long after the springtime air warms up. This campaign aims to help boaters avoid preventable tragedies.

“Our number one goal of this campaign is to make boaters aware of the risks of cold water so they can effectively prepare for their outing and come home safely,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Cold water is extremely dangerous and poses a greater risk of drowning due to ‘sudden gasp,’ and cold shock as symptoms of hypothermia negatively impact one’s ability to think and act. Taking proper precautions, especially by wearing a life jacket, can increase one’s chances of surviving a cold-water immersion.”   

DEEP’s cold water safety campaign runs from March through May. In addition to the social media outreach, DEEP is also planning public safety events which will be announced in the coming months.

One critical topic that will be highlighted time and again during this campaign is the use of life jackets. DEEP emphasizes that wearing a life jacket can significantly increase the chances of survival during a cold-water immersion event. All operators and passengers in paddlecraft are required to wear properly fitting life jackets in good repair from October 1st through May 31st in Connecticut. Life jackets should be U.S. Coast Guard approved and maintained in serviceable condition.

“Although spring brings warmer air, the water temperatures take time to catch up. As a result, recreational boaters must be cautious of the persisting cold water,” said State Representative Joe Gresko, D-Stratford. “I strongly encourage anyone going boating to utilize the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection’s resources on good practices. Be mindful and remember that your safety comes first.”

"Boating season is almost here and I would urge all our Connecticut boaters to follow DEEP's safety advice as you head out this spring, said State Representative Patrick Callahan, R-New Fairfield. “Wear your PFDs! The air is warming up, but the water is still extremely cold and hypothermia can set in very quickly." 

Boating safety topics that DEEP will be highlighting during the campaign include:

  • Always wear your Life Jacket!
  • File a Float Plan – Boaters should always let someone know where they are going and when they expect to return.
  • Dress for Cold Water – The correct clothes can keep you comfortable, extend your season, and save your life. In cold conditions, dress in layers of clothing that will retain body heat when wet and outer layers that repel water. Avoid cotton which stays wet and does not retain heat. Consider the use of a wet or dry suit.
  • Safety Gear and Equipment Make sure your safety gear and communication equipment are maintained, charged and working properly. Both Connecticut and federal law require a sound producing device onboard all vessels. 
  • Maintain a Proper Lookout – Boaters should be especially vigilant when they get out on the water at this time of year to look for and avoid floating debris such as damaged docks and logs that may be floating downstream and into Long Island Sound.
  • Following Proper Maintenance Procedures – Before heading onto the water, boaters should ensure all vessel maintenance is up to date and fire extinguishers are not expired. Accidents involving onboard fires or taking on water are generally a springtime occurrence. With a little vigilance, these accidents can be prevented.

DEEP hopes that raising awareness through this targeted campaign regarding early season boating and cold water safety will prevent boating accidents and fatalities this spring.  

To learn more about cold water boating and paddling in Connecticut, visit the DEEP website at
Twitter: @CTDEEPNews
Facebook: DEEP on Facebook


DEEP Communications