DEEP: CT DEEP Advises Boaters to Be Safe on Waterways

2017 Press Release
 
 
April 11, 2017
 
 
CT DEEP Advises Boaters to Be Safe on Waterways
 
 
With warmer weather arriving, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) reminds all boaters that even though the air temperatures are rising, the State’s waters are still in the mid to upper 40’s – which is considered “cold” water. The real danger of cold water boating is often masked by the anticipation and joy of spending a wonderful day on the water.
 
“With the trout season now underway, boaters and anglers are taking to the water for some fun,” said DEEP Boating Division Director Eleanor Mariani. “Recent heavy rains and snow melt have caused flood conditions, and local waters may be running faster than anticipated. It is important for boaters to check the flows and know their capabilities before heading out.  At this time of year, it is more important than ever to take proper safety precautions to minimize the chances of going into the water accidently and to be prepared for immersion if you do.”
 
The National Weather Service has issued several flood warnings this season. View latest NWS announcements affecting Connecticut at, https://alerts.weather.gov/cap/ct.php?x=1
 
In the past 10 years, capsizing and falling overboard have been responsible for the majority of boating fatalities in Connecticut.   Sudden immersion in cold water can lead to cold water shock and death within minutes. Swimming generally becomes nearly impossible after 30 minutes and unless a person is wearing a life jacket, drowning is a very real possibility in these kinds of water temperatures.
 
DEEP recommends that anyone on the water, regardless of boat type, be prepared for cold water immersion.  There are some cold water boating tips:
  • WEAR A LIFE JACKET!  Kayakers, canoers, SUPers - CT law requires anyone onboard a manually propelled vessel to wear a life jacket at all times between October 1 and May 31.
  • Wear appropriate clothing.  Choose the most appropriate clothing you own (wet or drysuit if you have one). Dress in layers of clothing that will retain body heat when wet (fleece) and outer layers that shed water.  Avoid cotton, which stays wet and does not retain heat.  Wear a hat.
  • Paddle with a friend.  You will have help to get back in your boat or call for help if needed.
    Give a friend your plans.  Tell someone where you are going, what boat you are taking and when you plan on returning -- this is called filing a float plan. 
  • 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.
  • Carry a phone in a waterproof bag and/or a marine VHF radio. In coastal/tidal waters a VHF radio (many handhelds are waterproof) is the best way to call for help. By using its modern VHF radio technology the US Coast Guard can accurately pinpoint the location of a VHF radio transmission and send rescuers to that location faster than using traditional searching techniques.
  • Put in the boat plug before launching. On boats with engines, replace any hoses that show signs of wear before launching.
  • Attach an “IF FOUND” sticker to your unregistered boat or write the boat owner's contact information in the boat. This contact information can help rescuers locate you faster in an emergency.
Connecticut has already experienced its first boating related fatality of the year from a fall overboard and we hope that these simple tips will help prevent another. For more boating information, please visit our website, www.ct.gov/deep/boating. To request an “If Found” sticker contact deep.boating@ct.gov .