Coast Guard Issues Hunter Safety Advisory

BOSTON– The Coast Guard is issuing a hunter safety advisory for migratory bird, goose and duck hunters on the inland and coastal waters of the Northeast’s First Coast Guard District.

Nationwide, in the past month the Coast Guard has rescued close to 20 hunters and there have been 5 fatalities resulting from capsizing or falling overboard.

“Here in the Northeast we’ve had seven duck hunters capsize and fortunately all survived,” said Al Johnson, recreational boating specialist for the First Coast Guard District, “and, with various hunting seasons open through mid-February, we want hunters to know, if you’re on the water, it is essential to be prepared. People don’t plan on drowning but you can easily plan on not drowning.”

Johnson also stresses the importance of being cold water wary and advises anyone on the water to be prepared for cold water immersion.

“Water temperatures are in the low 40-degree range or colder,” said Johnson, “and, for most people, are immediately incapacitating. If you’re on the water, a dry suit or full length wet suit, in addition to a Coast Guard approved life jacket, is strongly recommended.”

Johnson further recommends having a readily available signaling kit that includes a mirror, flares, whistle, light, a VHF radio, cell phone and, most importantly, leaving a float plan with a responsible individual who knows who to call if they fail to return as scheduled.

Johnson reminds paddlers that life jacket wear is mandatory on Massachusetts and Connecticut waters through mid-May, in Maine on the Saco River between the Hiram Dam and the ocean through the first of June. Life jackets are required for all boaters and paddlers in New York on all vessels under 21-feet through the first of May.

Johnson recommends that boaters and paddlers who have not yet taken an approved boater education course to utilize the winter months to do so. Courses are available through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons or with state, private or Internet providers. Additional course information can be found at the following websites or by calling the BoatUS course line at 1-800-336-BOAT:

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary – www.cgaux.org

U.S. Power Squadrons – www.usps.org

U.S. Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and

Boating Safety – www.uscgboating.org

National Association of State Boating Law Administrators – www.nasbla.org

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