BOSTON — The U.S. Coast Guard is reminding mariners that although the air temperature is warming, the water temperatures are still dangerously cold. With the rise in air temperature, the number of boaters, paddle craft users and water enthusiasts taking to water activities also rises.
Locally, water temperatures are still as low as 40 degrees. At this temperature, an average person who ends up in the water begins to suffer from hypothermia within minutes, which affects a person’s ability to swim and stay afloat.
The Coast Guard often experiences an increase in the number of search-and-rescue cases in the early part of the boating season while people are getting used to operating boats and paddle craft after the long winter.
Prior to heading out onto the water, the Coast Guard recommends that all required safety equipment be in good and working order and that the watercraft has enough approved lifejackets aboard.
The Coast Guard strongly encourages boaters and paddlers to wear their lifejackets while underway, as doing so will greatly increase chances of survival in the water. On a vessel that is underway, federal law requires that children under 13 wear a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket unless they are below deck or within an enclosed cabin.
It is critical for boaters to let someone know what their water plans are, including when and where they are going. This may be a friend, family member or someone else they know and trust. They should ensure that the trusted person knows what to do in the event that they do not check-in with the trusted person as planned or they do not arrive at their destination as scheduled. That person should not hesitate to contact the Coast Guard.
Boaters should be able to recognize signs of hypothermia and how to respond to it. They should check the current marine weather forecast for warnings and advisories before heading out.
Boaters also should make sure that emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB) and personal locating beacons (PLB) are operational and registered correctly.
The local Coast Guard Auxiliary offers complimentary vessel safety checks, as well as public education courses and electronic float plans.
For weather information, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s at noaa.gov.