April 17, 2014
DEEP Alerts Boaters to Dangers of Hypothermia
Cold Waters of Early Spring Pose Risks
Life jackets a key to survival when water temperatures still in 40s
Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) reminds all boaters that although the days are getting warmer the temperatures of the state’s waters are still in the 40’s – meaning that immersion into the water can cause serious injury or death due to hypothermia.
“This is a great time of the year for boating and boaters should not be put off by cold water,” said DEEP Boating Division Director Eleanor Mariani. “People out on our rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound must realize, however, that cold water creates an extremely hostile environment. 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 – and to be prepared for immersion if you do.”
In recent weeks, several incidents have demonstrated the dangers posed by cold waters and hypothermia. These include:
Five high school students were treated for mild hypothermia when their racing shell capsized April 9 during rowing practice in the Thames River. Their escort vessel was able to pull them out of the water and transport them to shore quickly.
A person was pulled from the water unresponsive after his vessel capsized on April 2 at the mouth of Southport Harbor in Fairfield.
Connecticut had its first boating accident fatality of the season on March 15 when a canoe capsized in Long Island Sound between Silver Sands State Park and Charles Island.
Between 2003 and 2013 58 people were treated for hypothermia as a result of a boating accident. Of these cases, 41 injuries occurred during Connecticut’s cold water months – October thru May.
A person immersed in cold water has a much better chance of survival if they are wearing a life jacket. The DEEP reminds all boaters that every vessel must have a proper fitting life jacket for every person aboard, and that children under 13 must be wearing a life jacket at all times while underway, unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
Captain Ryan Healy, of DEEP’s Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police, also reminds boaters that they are legally required to wear either a Type I, II, III, V or V-hybrid life jacket in a manually propelled vessel – such as a kayak or canoe - from October 1 through May 31.
“Don’t let a fun day of outdoor recreating become a fatal boating statistic, please wear a life jacket” says Healy.